Report (5th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 20th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Howe of Idlicote Baroness Howe of Idlicote Crossbench 5:00 pm, 20th March 2012

My Lords, I, too, welcome this proposal. All of us have been talking about this area for so long, it is not true. The point about action now, which was made by various speakers, is entirely right. My noble friend Lord Wigley has quoted a number of horrendous figures, which I will not quote again, but the fact that 5 per cent of women's children stay in the family home should be enough to indicate just how disastrous the effect of imprisoning women is on family life and on the futures of those children.

I very much hope that the actions already begun by this Government, and those started under the previous Government, to do much more to keep women out of prison will continue, which is entirely the right way to work. There needs to be intensive work and support at differing levels, both at professional and volunteer levels, to see the women out of these crises. Women prisoners outnumber men who self-harm, have mental health problems and so on. The situation is horrendous.

Without overemphasising absolutely everything about this issue, I hope that all departments will come together. I want to see good examples of what can happen in a women's prison, but I also want to see it as an example of what would be effective for a number of men as well, particularly young offenders. I hope that the Minister and all those involved in this issue will treat it with urgency.