Supporting Women in Criminal Justice with the Footprints Project
In the UK women only make up 5% of those convicted every year but are subject to longer sentences further away from home. The Project trains community volunteers to provide person-centred support for people who have been in prison or have received a community sentence or a caution.
The impact is evident in that 90% of the women supported on an Out of Court Diversionary Scheme in partnership with Dorset Police do not reoffend. Sharon Dears from the Footprints Project says:
“Providing a safe space to receive assistance helps them understand that there is another way forward."
This messaging is also reinforced in the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) recent announcement that a 12-bed Residential Women’s Centre in Swansea will open its doors in 2024 for around 50 offenders a year who would have otherwise been handed a prison sentence of 12 months or less.
It is designed to address the fact that many women who commit low-level crimes are driven by underlying and complex factors. Statistics show more than 60% of women in custody have reported domestic abuse, up to a third have been victims of sexual assault, and 50% have drug misuse needs.
Our investment of funding support and staff time for the conference is part of our broader drive to ensure that our business and industry can provide bright futures for prison leavers. This is demonstrated by the work our social value team has been doing in support of the UK Government’s wider prisons strategy.
The recent Prisons Strategy White Paper, reviewed by Kate Ribey, our Pre-Construction Lead, and Joy Woods, our Senior Social Value and Sustainability Manager, for the MoJ framework, sets out a vision for a modern prison estate that protects the public and cuts crime by rehabilitating offenders.
Joy explains how the built environment can help to support the achievement of this new vision:
“We are already working alongside Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service, supporting male and female prisoners, and people with a criminal record, to achieve their potential. We understand that female support services have to be trauma informed, which is why we work in close partnership with experienced providers, like the Footprints Project, to provide targeted support which aids rehabilitation and reduces re-offending, in support of the MoJ’s long-term ambitions.”
We also funded the refreshments for a ‘Far From Home’ fundraising cycle event for the Footprints Project in 2021, and are now in discussion with the team to identify further ways to continue our support for their important and impactful work.