Prisons and Probation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:17 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons) 3:17 pm, 14th May 2019

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that excellent point. In 2011, a report on the social return on investment produced by the Women’s Resource Centre and the New Economics Foundation stated that every £1 invested in women’s organisations generated between £5 and £11 in social value. My hon. Friend has made the important point that there is often a long-term saving to be made, and that those organisations need investment. Other evaluations have documented substantial improvements in mental health and other dimensions such as relationships, work, housing, health and money, all of which, combined with the reduced risk of reoffending, make women’s centres a good investment.

Where are we now? The Women in Prison report “The Corston Report 10 Years On” found that many pioneering women’s centres either do not exist or can no longer provide the full range of services, and that their model does not fit the “payment by results” model which has been introduced into the privatisation of probation. The Government’s female offender strategy acknowledges the legacy of the Corston report and the need for the value of women-specific services, but we just do not have the national network that we should have.

I am told that the Treasury will receive £80 million from the sale of HM Prison Holloway, which would transform women’s centres. The Howard League for Penal Reform has reminded me that, following its inquiry last year, the all-party parliamentary group for women in the penal system said that there was a real risk that many women’s centres were now so watered down that they could no longer be as effective as they should or could be. I ask the Minister to talk to his colleagues in the Treasury about keeping the £80 million and investing it to ensure that there is a fully funded network with a full range of women’s services across the country, because that range really saves lives. It saves women from the risk of reoffending, it saves children from the risk of being taken into care, and it helps to turn lives around. That was true in 2007, when Baroness Corston wrote the report, it was true in the “10 Years On” report, and it is true now.