Justice Committee report on Women in Prison sets out the case for ‘meaningful change’
Novus Director of Operations Annick Platt welcomes the focus of the Justice Committee’s report on addressing addiction, mental health and trauma issues facing women who enter the prison system
Today the House of Commons Justice Committee published its report on Women in Prisons. The wide-ranging document outlines a range of recommendations for the government. Education is one of the areas covered, with the Committee arguing that “poor” data collection makes it “difficult to draw conclusions on whether [education provision] is meeting the specific demands of women in the prison system”.
The report calls on the Ministry of Justice to look at how it can broaden educational opportunities so that they support the needs of all women in the prison system irrespective of their term in prison. It prominently cites evidence submitted to the Committee by Novus, referring to the complex needs of many female prisoners, as well as significant funding issues in prison education in comparison to mainstream community provision.
Novus’s director of operations Annick Platt, who gave oral evidence to the committee’s inquiry, said: “This thoughtful report by the Justice Committee recognises the good quality of prison education for women in prison, while acknowledging serious concerns over the lack of data available, both to inform providers’ approaches and to hold their performance to account. In-depth initial assessments for all prisoners at the start of their sentence would be transformational in facilitating more data-driven and focused interventions to meet the needs of each individual woman.
“The report is right to point out that the range of educational opportunities available should be broadened to ensure that the needs of all women in the prison system can be met, irrespective of their prior levels of education, the length of their prison term or what learning difficulties they may have. We agree with the Committee’s assertion that more needs to be done to address the addiction, mental health and trauma issues facing women who enter the prison system, and we are grateful that the Committee took Novus’ evidence on board when producing these constructive recommendations which, if acted upon, could bring tangible benefits to thousands of women each year.”