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Justice Committee examines impact of women in prison strategy

5 July 2021


The Justice Committee holds the opening session of its inquiry into women in prison on Tuesday 6 July when it takes evidence from witnesses including representatives of the Centre for Justice Innovation, Changing Lives and the Centre for Women’s Justice.

Purpose of the session

Women make up only 5% of the prison population in England and Wales. A greater proportion of female offenders are sentenced for offences that receive shorter sentences, meaning the average custodial sentence length is 11.3 months, compared to 19.7 months for male offenders.

However, women declared higher rates of existing issues on arrival at prison, including mental health problems, physical disability or problems with drugs and alcohol. The proportion of inmates who self-harm is more than double that of the male prison population.

In this session, the Committee will examine what progress has been made in achieving the key aims of the Government’s Female Offender Strategy. This includes reducing the number of women in custody, increasing community-based alternatives and ensuring the impact on dependents is considered when making sentencing decisions. The session will also investigate what progress has been made in adopting the Whole System Approach to women in contact with the Criminal Justice System.


Tuesday 6 July 2021

Panel 1 (2.30pm-3.30pm)

  • Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation
  • Laura Seebohm, Executive Director of External Affairs, Changing Live
  • Katy Swaine Williams, Consultant, Centre for Women’s Justice

Panel 2 (3.30pm-4.30pm)

  • Dr Kate Paradine, Chief Executive Officer, Women in Prison
  • Donna Everett, Coordinator of the Wandsworth Hub, part of the Beth Centre and South London Alliance
  • Sophie Taylor, Head of Commissioning – Safer Communities, Lambeth Council

Further information

Image: Ministry of Justice