On 18th May 2021 the Bishop of Gloucester took part in the fourth day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, and online safety:
My Lords, I too look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Fullbrook and Lady Fleet. In my few minutes, I shall briefly mention women in the criminal justice system, the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, violence against women and girls and the online safety Bill. I refer to my interests in the register, as Anglican bishop to prisons.
I begin by asking: when will we see a renewed timetable for the 2018 female offender strategy? While I welcome the implementation of some of the deliverables, analysis by the Prison Reform Trust shows that the Government have met less than half the commitments. The concordat published last year does not appear to have been progressed. Then there was that shocking announcement of 500 new prison places for women, totally at odds with the strategy’s direction to reduce the number of women in prison. What evidence is it based on, and why is the designated £150 million not being spent on women’s centres and implementing the concordat?
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On 16th December the Bishop of Gloucester received written answers to questions on pregnant women and mothers in prison, and the impact on families of the remand backlog:
Prisoners on Remand
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the remand backlog on (1) prison overcrowding, and (2) the health and wellbeing of prisoners, including children and young people held on remand. [HL11119]
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On 2nd and 3rd December the Bishop of Gloucester received written answers to three questions on prisoner release over Christmas and contact with family:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to enable the release on temporary licence of people in prison during the Christmas period. [HL10507]
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On 10th November Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked the Government “what are their plans (1) to participate in, and (2) to promote, the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign between 25 November and 10 December.” The Bishop of Gloucester asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester [V]: As has already been noted, if we are serious about eliminating gender violence worldwide, we have to address the root causes. What plans do the Government have to follow Australia’s lead and develop a national primary prevention framework to change the attitudes, behaviours and structures that underpin violence against women and girls? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about plans to tackle root causes of violence against women and girls”
On 5th and 6th October 2020 votes took place on amendments that Members of the House of Lords had tabled to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Eleven bishops took part across eight separate votes, supporting amendments that were passed by majorities of the House, with one exception. A summary is below and the full text of each amendment is beneath. The amendments will now be considered by MPs who will have to decide whether to accept or reject each. Continue reading “Votes: Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020”
On 1st October 2020 questions in the House of Lords were put to Government on support for professional and amateur sport. The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I was pleased to hear that the Government believes that sports clubs are the beating heart of their communities. As bishops we like to believe that is also true of our church communities, and indeed all communities of faith – and the Church of England is currently investing in pilot projects including my own diocese, focusing on sport and wellbeing underpinned by our Christian faith. Indeed the Bishop of Derby is the lead bishop for sport.
Can the government say what investment will the Government make into local provision for children and young people to engage in sports and physical activity that is shaped by them, given the research of the Children’s Society highlighting the importance not only of chosen physical activity but also of positive time with peers, and the fact that that has all been horribly impacted by Covid-19?
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On Tuesday 29th September the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government on its Female Offenders Strategy. The exchanges are below, with the follow-up questions asked by other Members.
Female Offender Strategy
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the level of funding that has been provided to the Female Offender Strategy launched in June 2018, and (2) whether such funding is sufficient to implement the Strategy fully.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, we are committed to ensuring sufficient funding for the female offender strategy, which we keep under review. To date, we have invested £5.1 million in the strategy in 30 different women’s services across England and Wales. In 2021, we will invest a further £2.5 million to meet core costs in the women’s community sector. In addition, we have been allocated up to £800,000 to support the development of our first residential women’s centre in Wales.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer. Given the amount of money that the MoJ spends each year, the high cost of reoffending and the relatively small number of female offenders, why have the Government seemingly invested so little in their own strategy? When will we hear details of the implementation of the strategy, given that it all seems to have gone very quiet? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about funding for Female Offender Strategy”
On 7th August the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on the Female Offenders Strategy.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL7520 To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they estimate the Female Offender Strategy will be fully implemented.
Lord Keen of Elie: The Female Offender Strategy (2018) set out our vision to see fewer women entering the justice system and reoffending; fewer women in custody, particularly on short custodial sentences, with more managed successfully in the community; and a custodial environment that enables rehabilitation. The strategy launched an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver, with our planned pilot of a residential women’s centre in at least five sites in England and Wales likely to last until the latter part of this decade.
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On 25th June, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, asked the Government an Oral Question on their plans to work with faith communities to address violence against women. She then asked a follow-up question about the Domestic Abuse Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to work with faith communities to address violence against women.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, I welcome the important role that faith communities have played, and will continue to play, in tackling violence against women and girls in all its forms. Alongside our ongoing engagement with faith groups, Home Office officials are working on the next phase of the Government’s plan to end violence against women and girls. As part of our stakeholder engagement work, we will be reaching out to faith leaders and communities to seek their views.
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