Bishop of Newcastle asks about vulnerable women released from prison

newcastle230119bOn 16th July 2019 the Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Government statement about domestic abuse. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I crave the forbearance of the House. I have two questions; one of my own and one from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who, due to the adjournment, has had to leave. My question relates to the needs of very vulnerable people, mainly women, on release from prison.

During my visits to our local women’s prison, I have learned that a higher proportion of women in prison than is the case in the general population come from violent and abusive relationships. It is critical that such women and other vulnerable people who have been abused are released into a safe, secure place with secure accommodation. Is the Minister aware that on occasion, due to things such as poor communication between the probation service in prison and the probation service outside prison, things go wrong and, tragically, a woman is released into danger.

What action might the Government take and can the issue be looked at in this Bill, along with the needs of migrants and asylum seekers, so that women and vulnerable people are never left vulnerable and in danger on release from prison? That is particularly critical when a prisoner is released on a Friday and the weekend is coming up.

My second question is on the All Kids Count report on the two-child limit. My friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham highlighted to me that serious questions arise from the rape clause and domestic abuse in relation to that policy. Will the Minister agree to meet him to explore that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank the right reverend Prelate for her question on behalf of the other right reverend Prelate. She talked about women on release. I fully concur with the points she makes, because I have visited women near to where I live in the local women’s prisons, and the percentage of those women who are in an abusive relationship and perhaps have children from that relationship is extraordinarily high. I observed that this is often coupled with substance abuse that may or may not be related to that abuse, and poor levels of education. So I think the right reverend Prelate refers to a multiplicity of vulnerabilities, which of course those women need support to overcome. I fully concur with that point and perhaps we will talk about it again.

On the other point she made on behalf of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, I think he may have raised it before—I am not sure—but certainly I would be happy to meet him about it.


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