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Too many women prisoners, MPs say


The Government is ignoring the needs of women offenders with its probation reforms, a group of MPs has warned.

Six years after the Corston report into female prisoners, the Commons Justice Select Committee has found that the female prison population has not fallen fast enough and more than half of inmates are serving ineffective short custodial sentences.

The committee said plans to introduce payment by results in the probation services – part of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s so-called rehabilitation revolution – needed to be redesigned for women offenders.

Baroness Corston’s 2007 report, launched after a series of suicides in women’s jails, called for large jails to be replaced by smaller units and recommended that only the most serious and violent offenders be given prison sentences.

The committee’s chairman, Sir Alan Beith, said: “The Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms have clearly been designed with male offenders in mind. This is unfortunately symptomatic of an approach within the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service that tends to deal with women offenders as an afterthought.”

The committee said community sentences, which would involve mental health and substance abuse treatment, remained unavailable to the courts.