Women at risk of committing crime are set to receive better support in rural Norfolk thanks to a successful bid for funding.
Norfolk is one of four areas to receive a share of £200,000 from the Ministry of Justice and Government Equalities Office, aimed at reducing the number of women entering the criminal justice system.
The county’s Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Stephen Bett, whose office lead on the funding bid said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding which will allow us to provide far earlier and more effective support to women at risk of offending or reoffending. The success of the bid follows work by the Norfolk Rehabilitation Board, chaired by deputy PCC Jenny McKibben.
“More than 4,000 women were prosecuted by courts in Norfolk during 2014, and without the right support it’s likely that a considerable number of those women will go on to reoffend. We have to understand what makes these women vulnerable to committing crime.”
Statistics show that, in Norfolk, 23 per cent of police detainees that are women have also been victims of crime – most commonly as victims of low level violence and domestic abuse. Female offenders are twice as likely to report experiencing abuse in their childhoods, twice as likely to commit crime to support someone’s drug habit, and two-and-a-half times as likely to need help with mental health issues when compared with men.
Mr Bett said: “These are vulnerable women becoming entrenched in offending behaviour which has a huge impact on their children, families and the wider community.
“And they need help to address the causes and consequences of what they’re doing. “
One of the strengths of the Women in Norfolk (WIN) project is that the connections and introductions to the project will be through a range of first contact channels including the police, existing partner agencies such as Early Help Hubs and Community Safety Officers, and victims’ services providers who come into contact and support vulnerable women that are both victims and perpetrators of crime, including domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Having identified that existing support for female offenders is concentrated in Norwich, the project will make services more accessible for women in rural districts.
Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage said: “I am delighted that we will be working closely with the community of Norfolk to develop new strategies to support women and get them off a pathway into crime at an earlier stage.
“Not only will this funding change the lives of more women and their families and give them a second chance to realise their potential, it will also cut crime and make our streets safer.”