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

Our research listings

Research Papers and Briefings

At the end of their year on the Griffins Society Fellowship Programme, Fellows produce a 10,000 word Research Paper on their findings. Research Papers are available here to view or download as a PDF (the size of each file is given).  

For all papers you will find the REPORT IN FULL, and also a single-page ABSTRACT.  For more recent papers, an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY is also available.

Fellows' research can be freely copied and distributed as long as the author and the Griffins Society are credited.


 

Outnumbered, locked up and overlooked? The use of penal custody for girls in England & Wales

Author: 
Pippa Goodfellow
Published: 
2019

The overall numbers of girls in the youth justice system and in the secure estate have fallen rapidly over the past decade. The recent decline in the use of custody is very welcome but poses significant challenges for the commissioning of placements, custodial establishments and resettlement services. Girls have become increasingly overlooked by the penal system at both a policy and a practice level and their diminishing minority in custody has exacerbated the marginalisation of their needs. Analysis of the existing literature has underlined the damaging and disruptive nature of incarceration, identified a lack of policy focus on the female population in the youth secure estate and found a paucity of available data about the nature of recent custodial sentencing, remand and placements for girls. The primary aim of this research project is to critically examine the use of penal custody for girls in England and Wales, in order to fill a gap in the existing research, policy and practice literature. This study aimed to address this gap by analysing recent custody data, to investigate how penal detention is being used for girls from a gendered perspective.

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Survived...but at what cost? A study of women in the criminal justice system who experienced domestic abuse, and the potential for change

Author: 
Geraldine McGuigan and Ruth Walker
Published: 
2019

This Northern Ireland based research focuses on the impact of domestic abuse and its implications for women who offend so that more appropriate responses can be identified and introduced across the criminal justice system.

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Too many bends in the tunnel? Women serving Indeterminate Sentences of IPP - what are the barriers to risk reduction, release and resettlement?

Author: 
Sarah Smart
Published: 
2019

Indeterminate Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) is one of the most controversial sentences in the history of British sentencing, creating a ‘general and systemic legal failure’ (Laws LJ in Wells (2007)). Female IPP prisoners represent an often forgotten and overlooked minority, stuck in the creaking penal system. This research provides the first empirical exploration of female prisoners on IPP still in prison, despite the abolition of the sentence in 2012.

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Exploring the impact of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 on women involved in the criminal justice system

Author: 
Alice Moore
Published: 
2018

In 2014, legislation was introduced in Wales that placed new obligations on local authorities to prevent homelessness. If effective, the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (hereafter referred to as the Act) should provide greater assistance and support to households not considered 'in priority need'. However, the Act also removed priority need status for prison leavers, meaning local authorities no longer have an automatic duty to secure accommodation for people released from prison homeless. In the initial years after the introduction of the Act, and at a time when homelessness is on the rise, this report provides an insight into whether this housing policy is 'fit for purpose' for women leaving – and often returning to – prison and provides recommendations for how policy and practice can be improved to better support them.

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Lost Spaces: Is the current procedure for women prisoners to gain a place in a prison MBU fair and accessible?

Author: 
Maya Sikand
Published: 
2017

The purpose of this study was to examine women prisoners’ experiences of the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) decision-making processes. The research is based on semi-structured interviews with women prisoners and MBU staff in three different women’s prisons as well as with ex-prisoners. The study is limited to England and Wales.

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Resettlement experiences of street sex-working women on release from prison

Author: 
Hazel Renouf
Published: 
2017

This research explores the lived experiences of resettlement for street sex-working women alongside the views of professionals from community-based projects that have supported this group in their transitions from custody to the community. The study considers the challenges facing women on the day they leave prison and also the wider resettlement process: what preparation and planning takes place prior to release and the experiences and difficulties encountered by women once they have returned to life in the community.

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Losing my voice: A study of the barriers and facilitators to disclosure for sex-working women in residential drug treatment

Author: 
Kirsty Tate
Published: 
2016

Sex workers present a complex and unique footprint of needs and behaviour patterns. This is especially the case when those women also have drug and alcohol issues. Yet, when many of these women enter drug treatment system, their histories of sex work and the complex patterns of needs that such histories generate are often overlooked. This is not surprising. In comparison to dealing with the immediate needs subsequent to drug and alcohol issues, tackling the needs arising from sex work can seem less urgent. Drug treatment is a momentous process of change, but the background question to this research report is whether just dealing with the drug and alcohol issues is enough or whether it is also necessary for a woman who has sex-worked to create an ex-sex worker role, and what stands in the way of or promotes that? The focus of this research is on sex workers and the residential drug rehabilitation – a setting wherein they are attempting to produce momentous change in their lives. I interviewed street sex workers, escorts and parlour workers. The aim was to contextualise the meanings sex workers placed on sharing their internal world with others and the powerful impact of disclosure of sex work in relation to their treatment.

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Prison as a place of safety for women with complex mental health needs

Author: 
Tamara Pattinson
Published: 
2016

The purpose of this study was to examine whether prison is being used as a ‘place of safety’ for women who have complex mental health needs and deemed in need of ‘protection’ from themselves. The research is based on interviews with police, court and prison staff. The researcher was also able to examine a number of warrants received from the courts to establish the reason for disposal into custody with specific emphasis on those cases where ‘own protection’ was the primary factor. The findings suggest that the current use of prison as a place of safety for women with complex heath needs is unworkable, flawed and potentially dangerous and not in the best interests of the women offenders and prison staff.

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Probation officers' accounts of practice with women convicted of intimate partner violence (IPV) towards men

Author: 
Gareth Hole
Published: 
2016

Comparatively little research has been conducted about the motivations and risk factors associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrated by women when contrasted to that of men. Few studies have investigated the effectiveness of interventions delivered to women convicted for IPV and virtually nothing is known about the experiences of probation officers working in this field. This study arose from observations I made working as a Male Safety Officer for the probation service, a role which offered support to men whose partners were convicted for offences of IPV towards them: very few probation officers made referrals and when they did, the men were frequently described as the ‘real’ or ‘primary’ perpetrator. This exploratory study investigates the reasons for this, through interviews with probation officers’ about their attitudes towards women convicted of IPV and how these impacted their work; it reveals insights about how participants dealt with two issues with which they were frequently confronted: women who reported perpetrating offences within the context of experiencing violence from partners and the high number who referred to experiences of trauma and psychological disturbance.

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Time after Time: A study of women's transitions from custody

Author: 
Jean O'Neill
Published: 
2016

This study stems from the author’s work as a manager with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), with particular responsibility for the INSPIRE Women’s Project. The research explores the transition of women from prison into the community through the women’s own accounts — within the context of Northern Ireland — and tests the view that, if women can sustain periods in the community following release beyond twelve weeks, the likelihood of successful re-integration is improved. The research used a longitudinal qualitative methodology centered on in-depth, life history interviews with women pre- and post-custody.

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Missing Voices: Why women engage with, or withdraw from, community sentences

Author: 
Sue Jordan
Published: 
2013

Baroness Corston noted the ‘high rate’ of women in custody for breach and Hedderman calculated that a large proportion of the 60% of women imprisoned under the umbrella of ‘other offences’, will be there for breaching community sentences. Despite the interest in the subject, there appears to be little available research. This project was therefore undertaken to investigate the following issues: • What are the main barriers to women engaging with community orders and are there clear patterns that are not recognised by contemporary practice? • Are the aims of community orders understood and/or shared by the women involved? • Does the rigidity of structure inherent in these orders affect women differently? The research is based on interviews with women serving sentences for breach of community orders (including suspended sentence orders) in HMP New Hall and the Together Women Project in Hull. Whilst this research is small-scale in scope, it is hoped that the findings will inspire more extensive research in the future.

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Restorative Justice: Female offenders in Restorative Justice Conferences

Author: 
Rosie Miles
Published: 
2013

The use of restorative justice looks set to increase over the coming years. There is general academic consensus that restorative justice performs highly in terms of victim satisfaction and Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) have demonstrated that it can significantly reduce the reoffending of those offenders who take part. However, much of the evidence is based on research with male offenders. This report examines the experiences of female offenders (women and girls) in restorative justice conferences, through a literature review of the available evidence and then through interviews with restorative justice practitioners who have worked with both male and female offenders. The interviews with practitioners focused on the following questions: 1 Do restorative justice practitioners treat male and female offenders differently? 2 What types of cases involving female offenders go to conference? 3 Do practitioners notice any differences between male and female offenders in terms of how they react to the restorative justice process? 4 Are there risks with female offenders that practitioners think should be given particular consideration?

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