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.


 

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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Is there a difference in the perception of risk: between IPP prisoners and members of the parole board.

Author: 
Dawn McAleenan
Published: 
2012

Indeterminate Public Protection (IPP) was introduced in 2005. Unlike other prisoners, those subject to an IPP order do not have a specified date for release —release will only be granted by the Parole Board (PB) when it is considered that risk has been significantly reduced. The aim of this research was to explore perception of risk from three different perspectives: female prisoners under an IPP order; PB members; and legal advisors who have experience in representing female IPP prisoners at parole hearings. The research was conducted using semi-structured interviews with ten female prisoners, two legal advisors and one senior member of the Parole Board (PB).

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Moving forward: empowering women to desist from offending

Author: 
Shelly-Ann McDermott
Published: 
2012

This qualitative research explores women’s experiences of empowerment, desistance and compliance. The main objective was to capture women’s insights about their experiences of empowerment during their engagement with enforced community sentences. The questions asked were: • What factors do women identify as important for desistance? • What is empowerment? • Is being empowered an important part of desistance? • Does enforced contact with interventions empower women, or does a court order undermine empowerment? • What contributes to women’s decisions about engagement and compliance? The study engaged directly with seven women sentenced to woman-specific court orders delivered within London Probation. [NB. From November 2010, London Probation implemented two woman-specific Specified Activity Requirements, available within a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. The two activities are the Structured Supervision for Women (SSW) one-to-one programme and sessions with Women Ahead at the Jagonari Women's Education and Resource Centre (WERC).]

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Sentencing women: Considering the factors that influence decision-making through interviews with sentencers & probation officers

Author: 
Matina Marougka
Published: 
2012

It is widely thought that women are disproportionate imprisoned in comparison to their male counterparts. It might be expected that this would have changed following publication of the Corston Report (Home Office, 2007) but there has been little research about the sentencing of women since Corston. This research project is based on interviews with judges, magistrates and probation officers in order to explore the factors that influence decision-making when sentencing women; and what sentencers take into account when they sentence or remand women to custody. The research also explores the interviewees’ awareness of women-specific needs and gender-specific community resources - and the influence that this knowledge may have on the sentencing process. Interviewees were also invited to comment on how they use community options and prison remand for women.

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'Score, smoke, back on the beat': an exploration of the impact of homelessness on exiting street sex working in Manchester

Author: 
Louise Sandwith
Published: 
2011

The purpose of this research was to explore how and why women get into sex work and the factors which lead them to continue. The research looked at the issues for women wanting to exit sex work - and considered, in particular, homelessness and how this impacts upon the choices available. The research was undertaken using qualitative methods comprising interviews with women working in the industry and with accommodation providers.

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Seeing differently: working with girls affected by gangs

Author: 
Jessica Southgate
Published: 
2011

While concern has grown in recent years about the extent of gang activity in Britain, the ways in which girls and young women are affected tends to be overlooked or distorted. This research aimed to address this gap by investigating how those working closely with young women defined their gang-association and what they believed to be the most effective way of responding to this. It looked to a small but vibrant number of voluntary and community sector organisations (VCSOs) to see how they have responded to meet girls' needs through their work and the challenges they faced in delivering this.

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Exploring the experiences of minority ethnic women in resettlement: what role if any, does ethnic culture play in the resettlement of Black (African-Caribbean) women offenders in the UK?

Author: 
Elizabeth Owens
Published: 
2010

The aim was to explore the experiences of black and minority ethnic women in resettlement in order to form a picture of resettlement from their perspective and to determine what, if any, role ethnic culture played in resettlement. Four questions were formed as guidance: 1. What are the resettlement needs of minority ethnic women? 2. What role does ethnic culture play in the resettlement of minority ethnic women in the UK? 3. How do minority ethnic women access and understand resettlement services? Is this influenced by their ethnic culture? If yes, to what degree, and how? 4. How are some providers successfully engaging these women? What are the ‘challenging’ areas to work on in making services accessible and meaningful to these women?

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What Judges think about prostitution - assessing the considerations & measures employed by members of the judiciary for sentencing women who sell sex

Author: 
Helen Atkins
Published: 
2010

The aim of this research project was to assess the considerations and measures employed by the judiciary when sentencing women who sell sex — and to make recommendations about legislative and policy change that could advance the application of justice in this area. The specific objectives were: to identify and explore the range of factors that judges take into account when sentencing women who sell sex; to consider the nature and depth of judicial awareness regarding the backgrounds and circumstances of women who commit offences in relation to selling sex; to gather evidence about sentences, legislation and sentencing; and to gather evidence from researchers or practitioners who work with women who sell sex. To obtain detailed attitudinal data a qualitative approach was adopted — and the field research consisted of twelve semi-structured interviews with fourteen respondents – seven judicial respondents and seven other stakeholders.

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