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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.


'Hell hath no fury..?' Experiences of women convicted of violence

Author: Rachel Reed
Published: 2024

The experiences of women convicted of serious violence is under-researched. In probation practice, this translates into a corresponding lack of investment in offending behaviour programmes and interventions specifically focussed on working with women’s violence and its origins. The Female Offender Strategy (MoJ, 2018) promotes a trauma-informed and gender-responsive approach to working with women within the criminal justice system and highlights the importance of taking a specialist approach. Given the lack of research on which to base such an approach however, specifically in relation to women convicted of serious violence, the current study focussed on attempting to capture this perspective using qualitative semi-structured interviews with seven women convicted of serious violence.

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'What, if anything, might be utilised from different models of trauma-informed practice in providing legal support to women affected by the CJS?'

Author: Becky Fédia
Published: 2024

Incidence of trauma amongst women involved in the criminal justice system is significantly higher
than that of the general population and is regularly linked with women’s offending. In recent years
there has been growing interest in trauma-informed practice which seeks to recognise and respond
to the prevalence of trauma. This interest has spread to the criminal justice sector, with numerous
prisons, probation services and the third sector in the UK all experimenting with implementing
trauma-informed approaches. Contact with a legal professional is a common thread that runs
through many women’s journeys through the criminal justice system but, in the UK at least, has not
been explored as an area in which the aforementioned trauma-informed practices could be utilised.
Through hearing the voices of women that have worked with lawyers and the voices of lawyers
themselves, this study seeks to examine the extent to which trauma-informed approaches could be
usefully implemented at this ‘touchpoint’ in the criminal justice system and whether lawyers could
become part of the trauma-informed offer for women.

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“They’re your responsibility, you should have thought of that before you committed the crime”: How women with caring responsibilities experience the criminal court system

Author: Lucy Slade
Published: 2024

There has been a growing recognition of the devastating impact that custodial sentences disproportionately have on women and their children. Yet there is there is a striking gap in the research literature and policy discourse on the distinct challenges women face earlier in their criminal justice journey – particularly in the court system.

Judicial guidance in England and Wales acknowledges that the interests of justice are unlikely to be served by either party being late or distracted because of worries over childcare, and calls for caring responsibilities to be “accommodated as far as reasonably possible”. If this standard is not met in our courts, it is likely to have a disproportionate impact on women, who are the primary carer of 90% of UK families.

Through qualitative interviews with 12 women, this research seeks to examine the extent to which the caring responsibilities of women are accommodated “as far as reasonably possible”, and the impact this has on their ability to attend and engage with the court process, as either a defendant or a witness. While small-scale, this project is an important start to the conversation about the shape of reform needed for the women, and their children, who come through our courts.

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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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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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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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The sustainability of gender-specific provision in the Youth Justice System

Author: Sue Mathews and Cath Smith
Published: 2009

The original aim of this research was to examine the efficacy of the gender specific community based provision offered to young women by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire youth offending services. It was also to consider whether girls responded more positively to a gender specific approach. During the preliminary preparations it became apparent that this would require research with a larger sample size. Accordingly, taking into account the limitations of the sample group, and without a matched
cohort who had not attended the gender specific programmes, sustainability became the main focus of the research proposal.

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