Too many women in jail, says minister
Too many women are being sent to jail, leading to record levels of suicide, the minister in charge of Britain's prisons has admitted.
The Government is drawing up alternatives to jail: tagging female drug offenders, sending more women to bail hostels and extending the use of part-time custody.
"I want to see fewer women in there, serving shorter sentences," Paul Goggins, the Prisons minister, said yesterday. He said: "I want to see more women on community sentences where appropriate."
Mr Goggins, in an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday, also admitted the number of female offenders killing themselves was "appallingly high".
Mr Goggins said the prison system was biased towards the needs of men, that women with mental health problems should not be in prison and that short jail terms often had a negative impact on offenders.
Mr Goggins' comments follow the publication yesterday of a damning report into the women's prison at Styal in Cheshire where six inmates killed themselves in 2002 and 2003, all within their first month of custody.
The inspection report revealed that drug-addicted women were locked in their cells for 19 hours a day and that self-harming inmates were handcuffed and placed in punishment rooms.
Prison reform groups have called for an urgent review of the jailing of women, the majority of whom have not committed violent offences.
Women In Prison, which campaigns to improve the rights of female prisoners, said that prison was unsuitable for the majority of women.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence's own witness contradicts athlete's version of events
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
South Korea ferry: Captain Lee Joon-seok could face criminal investigation as over 280 remain missing
Peaches Geldof dead: Private funeral for the family and friends of the socialite will take place next week
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 The Hobbit: There and Back Again set for possible title change
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building