Developing effective support for women offenders and women at risk of offending   affected by domestic abuse and other related forms of violence against women is a new partnership project between National Offender Management Service (NOMS), Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Women's Aid.

A Women's Community Project Focus Group for the project will be held on Tuesday 29 June at 1.30pm at Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Janet Edden janet.edden@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Women's Aid will be consulting key agencies and organisations that work with women offenders and at risk of offending, to discuss:

1. what are considered to be the key needs and priorities for this group of women;

2. what approaches and provision are  currently in place

3. what examples are there of good practice; and what are seen as areas for improvement

4. to seek views about how services could be developed further.

If you can assist with answering any of these questions please contact Deborah McIlveen at Women's Aid on 0207 022 1815 or d.mcilveen@womensaid.org.uk

More about the project

There are well documented links between violence against women and offending behaviour, as well as the need for improved coordinated responses to the needs of women offenders affected by violence against women. In response to this identified need, Women's Aid, NOMS and MoJ propose to identify and build upon the effective work that is already happening in different areas and develop a framework for the implementation of interventions and responses to women who are at risk of offending or are in the justice system, whether in custody or community, and have experienced domestic and sexual violence.  This project aims to:

  • scope existing approaches to supporting women affected by domestic violence and abuse, identifying existing good practice in other contexts;
  • review their appropriateness to meeting the needs of women offenders and those at risk of offending
  • provide a framework for the provision of high quality safety and support mechanisms for women offenders (in custody or the community) or at risk of offending
  • develop support for staff working with these women by identifying and strengthening local links to enable NOMS and the specialist violence against women support agencies to   work more closely together to deliver this provision;
  • increase opportunities for women offenders, and women at risk of offending, to address the impact of their experiences of domestic and sexual violence and help them to achieve their life potential.

There are two stages to this work:

Stage 1: Scoping existing approaches, support and   other activities to respond to violence against women in other contexts;  reviewing their appropriateness to meet the needs of women offenders and women at risk of offending;  developing support for staff working with these women by signposting appropriate support services.

Women's Aid will identify and review the approaches, activities   and resources currently used in other contexts to support women including group work programmes and activities, safety and support planning and any other forms of support for women at risk of domestic violence and abuse.  This will be achieved using a variety of methods including a desktop review and individual and group consultation meetings with representatives from NOMS, and voluntary sector organisations. Conclusions will be drawn about the appropriateness of these for use with women offenders and women at risk of offending, and appropriate methods, resources, activities and provision will be highlighted.

Stage 2:  The development of a model framework to provide a seamless approach to the provision of support to meet the diverse needs of women offenders who are affected by violence against women.

The model will provide a framework of options for provision of support for vulnerable women and will include guidance on :

  • identifying women who need support;
  • dealing with disclosure;
  • the range of approaches to providing support (group ; one-to-one);
  • meeting   information and advice needs (including legal);
  • risk assessment and safety planning;
  • child protection implications;
  • outlining statutory provision - IDVAs; ISVAs; MARACs;
  • range of support services provided by the voluntary sector;
  • accessing these services: referral pathways, and funding issues; through the gate support
  • staff awareness & training
  • diversity issues including culture, disability
  • overlapping services issues - sex working; substance misuse.

The model will also consider different needs of women at different stages of the criminal justice system - at risk of offending; in custody; or under supervision in the community  The model will consider how to benchmark for quality of this provision and identify outcomes that measure effectiveness for both service delivery and service users.

For more information about the project, please contact Deborah McIlveen at Women's Aid on 0207 022 1815 or d.mcilveen@womensaid.org.uk

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