Representatives from organisations such as the Probation Service, The Reader Organisation
, the Prison Reform Trust (PRT)
, Tomorrows Women Wirral along with residents from Adelaide House
* came together to explore the issues facing women in the criminal justice system
It’s a decade since the lecture’s guest speaker, Baroness Corston, published her report: ‘A Review of Women with Particular Vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System
’. Delivering her speech, she talked passionately about the impact of her report and the progress that’s been made since. Her presentation outlined the practical nature of the report, illustrating vividly experiences of the women she’d met who’d helped shape the report and its recommendations
She went on to highlight the proposal to build more women prisons when previously there had been a decision to close them - as they did not deliver appropriate female-orientated care in custody given the nature of the crimes and circumstances of the women committing them. Projects like Adelaide House, which perhaps embodies the type of intervention her report envisaged, she believes do not sit well in the current vision for female crime punishment.
Based in Liverpool, Adelaide House is one of only six such facilities in the country, providing residential support and interventions for up to 20 women aged over 18 years-old. The team provides enhanced supervision within a structured and supportive environment while advocating a holistic, women-centred and needs-led approach.
Before Baroness Corston or Jean, as she asked to be called by the audience, made her speech, residents from Adelaide House talked about their experiences navigating life in the criminal justice system and how Adelaide House’s ‘women-centred’ approach had helped move on with their lives or in some cases saved them.
Baroness Corston reminded the audience of the figures around women in prison committing suicide, and it’s possibly no coincidence that many of the women in criminal justice system suffer from high levels of poor mental health and low self-esteem. The lecture was then particularly pertinent given it was held on World Mental Health Day.
In the afternoon sessions, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral talked about their unpaid work project, while Sarah Beresford spoke about how she became involved with women in the criminal justice system and PRT’s report ‘Home Truths’. The Reader Organisation and other organisations also presented interventions.
Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon said about the purpose of organising the lecture:
“Social Justice has a part to play in everyone’s life. This event raised questions about the female experience of the criminal justice system in the last ten years and aims to identify needs and vulnerabilities for the future. By working together, across the many organisations, we want to draw upon the joint learning from the event to put a plan of action to make a bigger difference to women and their families caught up in the system, whom would be better served by a more holistic approach to offending behaviour and subsequent punishment.”
“Listening to everyone here today, I feel we’ve all learnt from each other. Hearing some of the experiences both first- hand and from the reports plus some of the statistics, we know progress was made from the Corston report, but believe that there have been some setbacks which need to be addressed for the good of all communities.”
As Sarah Beresford, talking about her work for PRT so eloquently puts it “The answers are all there from the women themselves – perhaps it’s time we started listening.”
If you’d like to know more about the Liverpool Prison Lecture or about Social Justice, please contact Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon.
T: 0151 705 2113
M: 07718 806891
Tomorrows Women Wirral
NW Regional Crime Unit
*Adelaide House is an Independently Managed Woman's Approved Premises, managed by the Board of Trustees of the charity The Liverpool Church of England Council for Social Aid, the Chair of whom is appointed by the Bishop of Liverpool who is the Patron.