Alana House Women’s Community Project, run by Parents And Children Together (PACT), has joined more than 20 national organisations objecting to the Government’s announcement to build 500 more prison places for women.
PACT CEO Jan Fishwick OBE has added her signature to a joint statement criticising the Government’s plans, which has been signed by leaders of organisations across the country that provide women’s specialist services.
Joint statement about plans to build new women’s prison places
We condemn in the strongest terms the plans unexpectedly announced on Saturday 23 January to build 500 new women’s prison places.
This plan flies in the face of all the evidence built up over years (including official government data) about how to address the root causes of women’s offending that so often include experiences of trauma, mental ill health, substance misuse and domestic abuse. These have been exacerbated as the consequences of the pandemic take their toll on the health and safety of the most disadvantaged women in our communities through increases in poverty and abuse.
In 2018 the Government published its strategy to invest in community-based support with the goal of reducing both the women’s prison population and reoffending rates. This strategy is supported by the police, prison governors, probation officers, local authorities, health services and charities, including those providing specialist services for women, like women’s centres.
Building new prison places will make the collective efforts of these organisations all the more difficult, and undo progress with the strategy, including delivery of the Government’s newly published Concordat and all the commitments within it.
Building these prison places will harm women, their children, families and communities. The most recent Safety in Custody statistics show self-harm across the women’s estate is at the highest levels on record. These figures point to the urgent need to rethink these plans before the impact of prison expansion results in a steeper trajectory of this devastating upwards trend. We call on the Government to do the right thing to halt these plans, and return again to focus on the strategy that so many are committed to.