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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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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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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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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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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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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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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