A report by Lord Michael Farmer on prisoners and their family ties found that healthy relationships are a ‘must have’ when it comes to preventing women from reoffending.
Prisoners who receive family visits are 39% less likely to re-offend, and research shows these relationships are more important for women than they are for men.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will use the recommendations to continue to boost rehabilitation and divert women away from crime, building on work already being done across the prison estate following Lord Farmer’s 2017 report into the male estate – including the rollout of in-cell phones and new rules giving prison governors greater autonomy to grant Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL).
Around 30% of all female offenders have dependent children and maintaining these relationships can also reduce the issue of intergenerational offending.
Farmer Review 'lays bare' family ties
Justice Minister, Edward Argar said: "The findings of Lord Farmer’s comprehensive review lay bare the connection between maintaining strong family relationships and reducing female offending.
"I want to thank him for this important work and we will now take forward his recommendations to strengthen vital ties and break the cycle of reoffending.
"Our Female Offender Strategy made clear that we want to strengthen community options for women so they have access to a network of local support services and it is easier for them to maintain vital family ties."
The government has also committed to ending short prison sentences of under six months, which negatively affect families and have been deemed detrimental to rehabilitation.
Lord Farmer, said: "Healthy, supportive relationships are utterly indispensable for every woman in the criminal justice system if they are to turn away from criminality and contribute positively to society.
"Yet female offenders have often experienced abuse and trauma which can profoundly impact their ability to develop and sustain healthy, trusting relationships.
"The importance of good family and other relationships, which are rehabilitation assets, needs to be a golden thread running through the criminal justice system."
Commenting on the publication of the final report from The Farmer Review for Women today (18 June 2019), Jenny Earle, Prison Reform Trust’s Transforming Lives Programme Director said:
“Lord Farmer’s report makes many practical, and measurable, proposals that if implemented will reduce the number of children unnecessarily separated from their mother by her imprisonment. The review’s focus on increasing the role of community-based women’s services, recognises that many women in prison are there for non-violent crimes. It allows women to take responsibility for their actions, whilst minimising the trauma, stigma and social isolation faced by children when a parent is imprisoned. Our own research found that the views and best interests of children are rarely considered by the criminal justice system and that they face many barriers to getting support. The message couldn’t be clearer, what’s needed now is speedy implementation. Doing so will benefit women, children and society.”