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We sponsor research to bring about change in how women and girls are dealt with in the criminal justice system

Why we do this

'There are many women in prison, either on remand or serving sentences for minor, non-violent offences, for whom prison is both disproportionate and inappropriate. Many of them suffer poor physical and mental health or substance abuse, or both. Large numbers have endured violent or sexual abuse or had chaotic childhoods. Many have been in care.

It is timely to bring about a radical change in the way we treat women throughout the whole of the criminal justice system and this must include not just those who offend but also those at risk of offending. This will require a radical new approach, treating women both holistically and individually - a woman-centred approach.'

That was the view of Baroness Jean Corston in her seminal 2007 report, a 'review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System'.  Some things have changed for the better, but a lot remains the same or indeed worse, have gone backwards.

" It seems to me that it is essential to do more to address issues connected with women's offending before imprisonment becomes a serious option "
Baroness Corston, 2007

How we do it

For over ten years the Society’s Research Fellowships have turned a spotlight on how women and girls are treated in the criminal justice system.

We believe that those who work directly with women and girls are best placed to see what works and what doesn't.  

Through our fellowship programme and with the support of the Institute of Criminology in Cambridge and academics from across the UK, we provide them with the opportunity and the tools to carry out research with the aim of bringing about change in practice and policy.

" The issues go beyond criminal justice alone. Society as a whole must recognise the ways in which women who offend have been failed repeatedly. It will take wider social justice approaches to promote desistance and to empower individuals to rebuild their lives. "
Shelley-Ann McDermott, Fellow 2011, 'Moving forward: empowering women to desist from offending'