On 27th February 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bates, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the Checkpoint programme, run by Durham Constabulary, to reduce reoffending rates and custodial sentences.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, not least for his important mention of mercy, which is so important to me in my Christian faith. I too would like to commend the work of the Checkpoint programme, especially on behalf of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, who also wanted to pay tribute to Ron Hogg—so it is good to have heard that.
There are pockets of good practice across the country. The important question is: what is the Ministry of Justice doing to support and replicate them? The Nelson Trust, of which I am president, has liaison and diversion keyworkers who meet with women in police custody with the aim of diverting them away from the criminal justice system at the earliest opportunity. They also deliver a women-specific point of arrest referral scheme with Avon and Somerset Constabulary, which has supported over 500 women in just two years. The women’s centre is key to this preventive work, so I ask the Government what they are doing to support diversion and alternatives to custody for women, as promised in the Female Offender Strategy?
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie) (Con):…Out-of-court disposals with rehabilitative conditions are an opportunity for early intervention and prevention. This is particularly important for vulnerable groups, such as offenders with drug or alcohol issues. In addition, the Government’s strategy for female offenders and accompanying police guidance promotes the opportunity for police to direct women into appropriate services, such as women’s centres, as part of a disposal. I note the interest of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester on these issues, which are of direct interest to the department.