Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
Data and Facts
1.1. Historically, female offenders have not had tailored services but have complex and specific needs that are frequently not met. Although there has been some progress since the Corston Report in 2007, there is still significant progress that is needed across the Criminal Justice System to ensure tailored services for women.
1.2. There is a need to ensure services are focused and adapted to the needs of women, many of whom have been victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence.
1.3. In March 2015 the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime made a commitment with the then Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties to pursue an enhanced whole system approach for female offenders in London targeted at reducing imprisonment of women and reducing reoffending. This was supported by the London Reducing Reoffending Board in which three priorities of work were agreed, namely:
• To support the implementation of female specific arrangements as part of the CRC’s new cohort model for London.
• Flexing current contracts and services across partners to be more responsive to the needs of female offenders and to improve access to these services.
• Test different models of wraparound support and additionality through scaling up existing best practice in London.
This decision is in relation to the third priority to test innovation.
1.4. Short prison sentences are less effective than community sentences at reducing reoffending. People serving prison sentences of less than 12 months had a reoffending rate seven percentage points higher than similar offenders serving a community sentence—they also committed more crimes. We also know that 28% of self-inflicted deaths in prison are females, when female offenders only consist of 5% the overall population – the disproportionality is significant.
1.5. London sends a disproportionately high number of women to prison compared to the rest of the country. However the volume of female offenders in London is small enough to provide a significant opportunity to make a real difference to outcomes for women. Current outcomes from existing women’s centres in London are showing extremely promising results. The Beth Centre in Lambeth and the Minerva Project in Hammersmith and Fulham have both demonstrated a significant improvement in outcomes for female offenders. These include decreased prostitution, a reduction in the number of women sentenced to prison and indications that reoffending is reduced.
1.6. Despite the successes of the existing specialist services, female offenders in other parts of London are still required to access male-dominated provision which is not designed to meet the needs of women. There is a real opportunity here for London to further enhance and test the innovation delivered by women’s centres, leading the way for the rest of the country, where there is a real gap in tailored service provision. There is a need to embed female only provision as the norm within statutory offender management provision and this is the first step.
1.7. Transforming Rehabilitation has delivered a new offender management landscape with the introduction of Community Rehabilitation Companies to manage offenders assessed to present a low or medium risk of harm. Due to the nature of offending by women, the majority of female offenders will be managed within London’s Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) rather than being managed by the National Probation Service who have responsibility for high risk offenders.
1.8. MTCnovo took over ownership of the CRC in February 2015 and have since introduced a new cohort model that sees female offenders being managed in a bespoke cohort designed to meet their needs. London CRC operated by MTCnovo, is commissioning the London Women’s Consortium to provide a pan-London resettlement service that includes prison to community ‘Through the Gate’ provision alongside specialist community case-work.
1.9. MOPAC also currently funds two women’s centres to work with female offenders in London through the London Crime Prevention Fund (funding is committed until the end of 2016/17 only – as part of the original 4 year funding offer):
• £300,000 goes to the tri-borough to fund ADVANCE to run the Minerva women’s centre (£75k per year); and
• just over £1million (approximately £250k per year) is given to Lambeth to fund their women’s criminal justice service - the Beth Centre.
1.10. These bespoke services for female offenders are having a positive impact both in terms of keeping women out of prison but also in helping women turn their lives around and desist from offending. These are both showing excellent results including reduced levels of prostitution.
1.11. The intention is to build on these existing models of good practice and scale up provision to operate beyond borough boundaries, enabling more female offenders to have access to this provision. Referrals to the Beth Centre have exceeded targets (527 against a target of 400) demonstrating that demand is outstripping supply and access to the centre is currently only for women in Lambeth.
1.12. Currently the services funded by the CRC and by MOPAC are commissioned separately which delivers a fragmented service for women. There is an opportunity through testing further innovation aligned to offender management provision, to demonstrate the case for enhanced services to be integrated into statutory provision delivered by the CRC. This is particularly important due to Payment by Results being a key element of the London CRC contract with the Ministry of Justice.
2. Issues for consideration
2.1. A budget of £500,000 has been identified through existing budgets to further test the women’s centre approach in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
2.2. From the 1st of April, this innovation funding will be granted to the CRC to commission enhanced services alongside their core pan-London resettlement service. The innovation funding will enable access to the enhanced female offender service for women in up to ten boroughs (an additional six boroughs to the existing footprint of services in the tri-borough and Lambeth). This will be delivered through a hub and spoke model:
• Tri-borough (existing hub): Spokes intended to be established in Hounslow, Ealing, and Brent;
• Lambeth (existing hub): Spokes intended to be established in Southwark, Croydon, and Lewisham.
2.3. The CRC will commission this service from the London Women’s Consortium (LWC), who are the agreed supply chain provider for the new female offender resettlement service (subject to agreement of terms). In addition to providing the core elements of the CRC pan-London resettlement service, LWC will be commissioned to deliver the following enhanced services to the boroughs specified above:
• Delivering enhanced access to women only space through existing Women’s Centres and securing additional spokes to enable expansion of service. Also supporting travel and access to hubs to allow greater access to maximise access and coverage.
• Establishing a specialist women’s peer-mentoring scheme to support female offenders in reducing reoffending, accessing services and in turning their lives around.
• Direct delivery of interventions that support rehabilitation. A tailored package of support will be delivered to address female offenders’ individual needs with a focus on addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour.
• Enhanced advocacy through specialist workers - supporting more intensive supervision for those female offenders with higher needs. This will include a tiered approach with those with more complex needs receiving more support in order to reduce reoffending.
The above elements of service provision are over and above the baseline service that is being commissioned by the CRC. The provider will be required to submit a proposal outlining how the above services will be delivered and demonstrate that outcomes are being delivered.
2.4. The funding will allow for approximately 110 additional female offenders across London to benefit from the enhanced provision (numbers are based on existing CRC caseloads within the expansion boroughs). The aim of the service will be to reduce levels of reoffending for the cohort worked with.
2.5. The service provider will work closely with MOPAC and the London CRC to ensure additionality, prevent duplication and ensure continuity of care for the offender and will in fact be delivering services on behalf of the CRC. This will provide a unique opportunity to really offer one seamless and coherent service to female offenders in London, reducing and minimising transition points between different organisations and different case workers and thus providing relational continuity.
2.6. The service will be outcome focused in order to demonstrate the real impact in the lives of female offenders and in reducing reoffending. The CRC’s rate card and returns on the payment by results elements of their contract with the MOJ will put forward a strong business case for their continued investment and roll out of this model.
Further funding opportunities
2.7 The Government Equalities Office has made £200,000 available to support local areas to develop a joined-up, multi-agency approach to improve support for female offenders. MOPAC intends to bid for funding under this grant for the purposes of expanding or extending the enhanced service offered to female offenders through this pilot.
2.8 There is widespread support for the need for develop a whole system approach targeted to the needs of female offenders. Once the enhanced service is in place, further opportunities will be explored such as the Police Innovation Fund and other large established funding institutions that have expressed an interest in this area of work.
Closure of HMP Holloway
2.9 The Ministry of Justice has recently announced plans to close HMP Holloway. This will have a significant impact on London due to the high number of female offenders from London housed in HMP Holloway.
2.10 The MoJ plans to reopen HMP Downview to act as the primary London prison for female offenders along HMP Bronzefield. What is not clear at this stage is whether this impact on overall prison places available for female offenders and what the exact transition arrangements will be. The DMPC has secured from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice for the MoJ to facilitate a discussion with London partners (including CRC) in early New Year to work through the transition arrangements. Regardless there will be still be risks in relation to delivery as the CRC model was developed to serve primarily HMP Holloway.
3. Financial Comments
3.1 This decision paper will commit MOPAC to providing £500,000 from existing budgets for enhancements to the CRC’s baseline provision for female offenders. This funding is to be spent over the course of 12 to 24 months.
3.2 This funding will be in addition to the estimated £1,300,000 per annum that MTCnovo will be providing the London Women’s Consortium (subject to agreement of terms) over a period of four years to deliver the CRC’s baseline provision for female offenders.
4. Legal Comments
4.1 Under section 143 of the Anti- social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 MOPAC may make a grant to any person MOPAC thinks appropriate in connection with the provision of services , where in the opinion of MOPAC those services will secure, or contribute to securing, crime and disorder reduction in the police area. Grants may be made subject to any conditions as MOPAC thinks fit.
4.2 Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation, approval of the strategy for the award of individual grants and the award of all individual grants (for crime reduction or other purposes) is a matter generally reserved to the DMPC (paragraph 5.6). The release of funding in accordance with the proposals set out in this decision form is accordingly to be approved by the DMPC. The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and putting in place appropriate documentation in respect of the grant arrangement, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Operating Officer is in accordance with the general power of delegation in paragraph 1.7.
5. Equality Comments
5.1 MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010. This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations by reference to people with protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
5.2 To ensure maximum impact of this funding whilst ensuring value for money, a targeted approach of use of the funding is required. Female Offenders will be a priority focus due to their bespoke needs and the positive impact that interventions can have on this target group. Female offenders are also an agreed priority for the Reducing Reoffending Board and wider work is being developed to test approaches for providing an enhanced service to females in North and East London. As this pilot is being developed in South and West London it allows for a further approach to reducing female offending to be tested.