Letter to the Editor at The Times

Our response to Alice Thomson’s article ‘Female offenders need help, not prison


Your columnist, Alice Thomson (‘Female Offenders need help, not prison, Times, Oct 16th) is right to ask why the government is not implementing its own strategy to radically reduce the number of women in prison. Women’s centres are central to this strategy: they address the root causes of offending (trauma, domestic abuse, mental ill health, problematic substance use and debt) and help to reduce crime. Yet there is no government plan for how to fund these. MPs across parties, charities, prison governors and police officers all agree that investment is needed to grow and sustain the network of these centres. This month has witnessed the death of the 109th woman in prison since 2007, and the death of a baby when the mother gave birth in her cell. It is difficult to see what further tragedies are needed before those in power face the fact that, rather than building more prisons, we need to build community-based services and alternatives to custody.

Dr Kate Paradine ​
CEO, Women in Prison