Female Offender Strategy: One Year On — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:46 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 3:46 pm, 24th July 2019

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me about that. As the Prisons Minister, I am responsible for a very large estate, and it would be difficult to hypothecate that money in the way that hon. Members desire. Having said that, some of the funds that were raised have provided a women’s centre there, and the money is being ploughed back into the estate anyway. It is being used to make our prison estate safer, more decent and much better. It is difficult to hypothecate that money purely for these particular purposes.[This section has been corrected on 9 September 2019, column 6MC — read correction]

Hon. Members asked many questions, and sadly I do not have all the time in the world to deal with them. I want to talk briefly about the important work of Lord Farmer’s review and the vital issue of family ties. Women are more likely to be primary carers than men when entering the system. Of course, the innocent children of those relationships are the ones who suffer. We are very grateful to Lord Farmer for his review, and we will take his work forward. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley is right that the fact that someone might be a carer should not always be a reason for a court not to go down a particular sentencing path. Judges have to have discretion, and it would be bad sentencing practice for one issue to trump everything else.

I will try to deal with the questions asked by the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston. I feel very strongly about pre-sentence reports, and I have asked questions of my civil servants. There is an improved new checklist to make sure that the probation officer is asking the right question about women offenders, and we will roll it out nationally. Part of my aim is to see PSRs used more widely throughout the criminal justice system. I will write to the hon. Lady on all her other questions, because I appreciate that she needs time to respond.