Bishop of Gloucester says more investment and impetus needed in female offender strategy

On 3rd October 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Crossbench Peer Lord Ramsbotham, ‘That this House takes note of the case for reforming the management and treatment of offenders in prison and the community.’ The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rambsotham, for bring forward this debate and I am glad to be speaking in it.

I have a particular interest in women’s interaction with the justice system as the lead Bishop on women’s prisons, and I have been carefully following the progress of the female offender strategy. The strategy was published in June 2018, and it prioritised earlier intervention, community-based solutions, and effective, decent custody for women who have to be there. There has been widespread consensus in this House and beyond that community-based provision for most women offenders offers both cheaper and more effective rehabilitation than prison. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester says more investment and impetus needed in female offender strategy”

Bishop of Durham responds to spending round with need for focus on society’s most vulnerable

19.01.07 durham bOn 25th September 2019 the House of Lords took note of the Government’s Spending Round 2019. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, contributed to the debate:

Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, like others, I welcome the fact that we are able to hold a debate on the spending round 2019. When the political point-scoring is redacted from the Chancellor’s original Statement, as I note it is on the GOV.UK website, there are aspects to welcome in the overall spending increase and some of the specific commitments. I am pleased that the Chancellor recognised in his speech that in the nation there are anxieties and divisions,

“between regions and communities, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old”,—[Official Report, Commons, 4/9/2019; col. 180.]

and between black and white. The test for me is always around the impact of spending on the most vulnerable in our society. It is this that leads me to ask some questions.

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Bishop of Rochester highlights needs of vulnerable women prisoners

17.10 RochesterOn 25th July 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Farmer (Con) that the House “takes note of the needs of women in the criminal justice system”. The Bishop of Rochester contributed to the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for obtaining this debate and for his unstinting efforts in this area, not least the welcome emphasis in his most recent report on relationships, which he expounded so clearly when introducing this debate.

I am sorry that the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Gloucester and the Bishop of Newcastle are not in their places today, because they both take a very close and informed interest in the issues around women in the criminal justice system. However, I have visited a good number of women’s prisons over the last few years and, in making those visits, I have been both shocked and inspired.

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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.

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Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to provide more resources for prisoner rehabilitation

On 12th March 2019 Baroness Pidding asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the case for ensuring that prisons are places of rehabilitation.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, given the recent publication by the Ministry of Justice of figures showing a record level of the incidence of self-harm by prisoners, a record level of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and a 29% rise in assaults on prison staff, will the Minister acknowledge that we need not only a major reduction in the size of the prison population but increases per capita in resources on a scale not yet contemplated by Her Majesty’s Government? This would give rehabilitation the priority that many now see as an absolute imperative. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to provide more resources for prisoner rehabilitation”

Offensive Weapons Bill – Bishop of Newcastle asks Government to think again on Knife Crime Prevention Orders

On 6th February 2019 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Offensive Weapons Bill in its third day of Committee. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Chrisine Hardman spoke against Government amendments to create new Knife Crime Prevention Orders. The amendments were withdrawn following the debate, but the Minister indicated they were likely to be returned to again at a later stage:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: Before becoming Bishop of Newcastle, I was an archdeacon in south-east London. In my archdeaconry, sadly, was Eltham, where Stephen Lawrence died. I do not, therefore, underestimate the sheer heartbreak and devastation of knife crime, particularly when young people are involved. This crime is growing and growing. I have sat with families whose children have been victims of knife crime. I have officiated at a funeral where that has been the case. The circles of devastation and heartbreak just go on and on. I do not underestimate the seriousness of this problem; nevertheless, I object to this amendment and hope that it will be withdrawn, so that there is more time to reflect on it. Continue reading “Offensive Weapons Bill – Bishop of Newcastle asks Government to think again on Knife Crime Prevention Orders”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about progress on female offenders strategy

On 31st January 2019 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government on its female offender strategy:

Female Offender Strategy

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the female offenders’ strategy.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie) (Con): My Lords, the Female Offender Strategy, published in June 2018, outlines the Government’s long-term vision for improving outcomes for female offenders in custody and in the community. The strategy sets out a programme of work that contains a number of commitments that will take some years to implement. A new women’s policy framework was published last December, and my noble friend Lord Farmer’s review of family ties for female offenders is expected to report in the coming weeks.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I welcome that information from the Minister, which follows many positive commitments to the female offender strategy. However, we are still awaiting news of residential pilots, action to strengthen links between probation services and women’s centres, the report from the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, and a national concordat. Given that many of the strategy’s commitments have no clear timescales—indeed, in some cases the suggested deadline has already passed—how does the Minister plan to effectively monitor progress and stay on track?

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