Gender matters in the criminal justice system: 5 years of progress?
Ahead of an event tonight at the Scottish Parliament, Engender's Policy Manager Emma Trottier reflects on the five years since the publishing of a report by the Commission on Women Offenders, and asks where Scotland stands on the issue of women in the criminal justice system.
When we look at the criminal justice system, it can be hard to know where to begin. It’s immense. We have the police, crown office, sentencers, the prison service, and community organisations, who all play a role in building and maintaining a just, peaceful and safe society. To slightly narrow our focus, we’re looking at women in the criminal justice system. In particular, we’re looking back over the last five years to see whether we’ve progressed in supporting women through and out of the criminal justice system.
Five years ago, the women’s prison population in Scotland was at an all-time high, having doubled over a ten year period. In response to this crisis, the Scottish Government set up an independent commission to review policies and practices that could reduce the number of women in prison. The outcome of the independent commission was a report, known as the Angiolini report, which outlined 37 measures the Scottish Government could take to reduce women’s reoffending and reverse the increase in Scotland’s female prisoner population. The report recommended sentencing reforms, including alternatives to remand and to prosecution, and re-designing how we deliver services to women who come into conflict with the law. While some reforms have been implemented, it’s unknown whether the Scottish Government intends to pursue the remaining recommendations. Despite committing to 33 of the 37 recommendations, and to examining the remaining four, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice recently announced that no further annual update will be provided to Parliament on progress towards meeting the Angiolini recommendations. Does this announcement signal a refusal to implement the outstanding recommendations? We’re still not sure, but if the Scottish Government chooses to distance itself from the recommendations of the commission it established, questions will need to be answered about alternate plans to reduce the number of women in Scottish prisons.
Share this post on …
Engender Submission of Evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee on the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill Relating to Electronic Monitoring (EM) and its Impact on Women The imprisonment rate for women in Scotland remains one of the highest in Northern Europe.
Sign up to receive our newsletter here:
Sign up to our mailing list
Receive key feminist updates direct to your inbox: