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Published On: Sun, Nov 3rd, 2013 at 9:56am

New government investment in women’s prisons

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A range of projects across Scotland are to share in £3 million to help women offenders turn their lives around.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced the funding ahead of updating Parliament about progress made towards the recommendations of the Commission on Women Offenders.

The money will support the creation or expansion of community justice centres for women offenders in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, as well as seven other projects to support women offenders elsewhere in Scotland.

In Edinburgh, the successful Willow project is being expanded to increase the range of activities and to support women at an earlier stage in their involvement with criminal justice services than before.

A new Women’s Justice Centre is being set up in Glasgow to enable offenders to engage with a range of support services, working in partnership with existing services, including the 218 Centre. In Aberdeen, the city’s services for women offenders will be moving into a new dedicated centre. And in Dundee, the women offenders team will be expanded to enhance their work on early intervention and to develop their advice and guidance on mental health, housing, employment and finance.

Seven further projects across Scotland have been given funding to develop and improve their work with women offenders, in line with the recommendations of the Angiolini commission. Each will deliver expanded or improved services and guidance to women offenders, responding to the commission’s recommendations in ways that match local need, whether in urban or rural areas.

Mr MacAskill will also tell Parliament that good progress has been made towards meeting the recommendations of the commission since it reported 18 months ago.

He said: “I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made, together with our partners, in meeting the recommendations of the Commission on Women Offenders.

“The funding I am announcing today will help transform services for women so that we can help them break the cycle of reoffending and start making a positive contribution to society.

“The commission recognised that women offenders have very different needs to those of their male counterparts and require very specific support. We have set about meeting those needs to provide a better future for women offenders, their families and communities.

“We are not complacent, however – there is still a considerable amount still to do to help women avoid the vicious circle of reoffending and imprisonment and lead meaningful and productive lives.”

The Commission on Women Offenders, headed by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, examined how the Scottish Government, in partnership with agencies like the Scottish Prison Service, could improve opportunities for women offenders.

To help meet the recommendations of the commission, the Scottish Government is also supporting mentoring schemes for female offenders, as well as working with the Scottish Prison Service to develop HMP Inverclyde as a ‘custom made’ national prison for women offenders, a new regional unit for women in Edinburgh and a unit for women at the new HMP Grampian. The existing facility at Cornton Vale is also being upgraded while the new facilities are developed.

The seven other new projects receiving a share in the £3 million are:

North Lanarkshire – funding to enhance and enable the existing women’s team to be located together to co-ordinate their work and share expertise and good practice.
South Lanarkshire – funding to develop a new groupwork programme for women offenders in the community working with them to recognise and deal with their problems.
Falkirk & Forth Valley – funding to support the further development of women offender services across the region – by adding mental health resources to enhance their women offender services
Fife – funding to support the further development of women offender services across the region. Also helping support a team of workers who will work with women in the region, with “one stop shops” in three towns working with individuals across the region.
Angus – funding to create new women offender services working across the region in three locations and with individuals
Renfrewshire – support for the region’s women offender services and funding a volunteering co-ordinator to develop the work of the existing women justice team/centre
Ayrshire / SW Scotland – funding for a co-ordinator to develop improved early intervention and justice services for women in the region.

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