A new initiative to reduce reoffending amongst women is being trialed by Cheshire Police and restorative justice provider Remedi in the Crewe and Macclesfield local policing areas thanks to funding from the county’s police and crime commissioner David Keane.
The innovative programme works with female offenders to address the root causes of their crime, including poverty, domestic abuse or sexual abuse or drug / alcohol abuse, in order to reduce their risk of reoffending and protect the community.
The project is being run by Remedi out of the towns’ Women’s Centres, which bring support services together to address the diverse, and often complex, needs of females.
It is being trialed as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process and will see a case worker work closely with the offenders to develop appropriate practical solutions to address their offending whilst also working with victims to help them recover from their ordeal.
PCC David Keane said: “There is a wealth of research which suggests there are often extremely complex reasons why women commit crime which are often significantly different to the reasons why men commit crime. Furthermore, the implications for women when interacting with the criminal justice system can be profound, in particular the impact on the family.
“I support schemes which divert women from the criminal justice system and I have provided funding to support the development of a number of Women’s Centres across Cheshire which work with females to address their complex needs and in turn, protect the community by reducing their risk of reoffending.
“This pilot project is not about letting offenders ‘off lightly’. It’s about addressing the complex needs of offenders without resorting to costly prison sentences which, in the case of female offenders, can have major implications for children, whilst often doing little to address the problems women face and which are often the root cause of the crimes”.
The service will not be exclusively for women and the developed approaches will be used in other appropriate cases. This approach seeks to intervene early to address needs, prevent offending and maintain the integrity of the family environment.
Lisa Gill, manager of Remedi in Cheshire, added: “Remedi will be working with the offender to carry out an assessment to ensure individual needs are identified and supported. During the restorative programme, the victim will also be invited to provide their thoughts and explain how the crime has affected them.
“They may also take part in a face-to-face meeting with the offender to help them both understand the impact of the crime and prevent this happening again in the future.
“Repairing harm and improving community relationships is key for people to feel supported and able to access local support. Involving victims in the process creates long term more positive relationship.”
Chief inspector Simon Newell added: “We really pleased to be taking part in this scheme, which I truly believe will make a real difference.
“There are a number of complex reasons why people become involved in crime, but I hope that by exploring different ways of dealing with offenders, and providing them with the services and support they require, then we will be able to reduce the chances of them reoffending.”