The number of women in custody on remand has declined significantly over the past 15 years, having decreased from around 1,000 (as at June 2005) to 559 (as at March 2020).
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) includes a real prospect of custody test. This sets out that a court can only consider a remand in custody if the defendant, if convicted, would face a custodial sentence.
While there was an increase of 8% (520 to 559) in the number of women on remand in the year to March 2020, this figure is comparable with the 564 women on remand at 31 March 2018.
We are working on a number of areas for male and female offenders which should assist and support the courts in their decision-making. This includes the implementation of a national Bail Information Service as a priority service in those courts that remain open, which aims to ensure the identification of defendants who might be eligible for bail, and to provide sufficient information to the courts to enable them to make fully informed decisions in each individual case.
The National Probation Service has developed an Aide Memoire for use when court reports are being completed about women. The Aide Memoire for Reports on Women is designed to prompt probation officers writing presentence reports to consider all areas related to a woman’s offending and to make a robust proposal for a community sentence whenever appropriate.
In addition, the Female Offender Strategy (2018), set out an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders at all stages of the justice system, and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver.