Today is the 10th anniversary of the Corston Report. Time to reflect on where we are now when it comes to women in our justice system.
I started working in Styal Prison soon after six women died by their own hand within just a few months. This intolerable and tragic cluster of deaths led an inspiring woman, Baroness Corston, to look at how we fix the problem. She authored the far sighted Corston Report. It received widespread, cross party support for its championing of alternatives to custody.
The report advocated the reduction of the number of women in prison by upping the use of women’s centres both residential and non-residential. Women would serve community sentences while receiving wrap around support from these women’s centres which would become a one stop shop of success. What was not to like?
Everyone nodded in agreement. The Ministry of Justice pledged millions of pounds. But then…. too little has changed.
Ten years on I find myself sitting around tables discussing the same problem with yet another justice team. Corston’s recommendations made sense and we need to recommit to sustainable reform. The need is as pressing as ever.
A record number of women in prison took their lives last year; new women’s prisons are being built at a time when we are being told there is no money. Expert advice is being ignored. It is hard to fathom.
This is not just about doing the right thing for women in prison. This is about doing the right thing for our society. It is about stopping more people becoming the victims of crime. I simply cannot work out why ten years on, and countless lives ruined, we are still having this debate.
I am working every day, alongside dedicated professionals, inside and outside our women’s prisons to make sure that the next ten years are more productive than the last.
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Founder of One Small Thing
Edwina Grosvenor is a philanthropist and the founder of One Small Thing