Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Gloucester on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, online safety

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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Bishop of Gloucester asks about pregnant women and mothers in prison, impact on families of remand backlog

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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Bishop of Peterborough presses Government to rectify problem with war widows’ pension payments

On 10th December 2020 the Bishop of Peterborough asked Government when it would make retrospective the ability of war widows to retain pension entitlements if they remarried before the law changed:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough [V]:  My Lords, David Cameron, under whose premiership the new rules came in, has admitted that the current situation is a mistake and was not intended. It is manifestly unjust and betrays those who have served our country. The ridiculous rule that people could rectify the situation by divorcing and then remarrying undermines the institution of marriage. Does this not make it entirely justifiable to overturn, or at least suspend, the policy to which the Minister refers?

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Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about plans to tackle root causes of violence against women and girls

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”

Bishop of Bristol asks Government about plans to help migrant women suffering domestic abuse

On 27th October 2020 Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate asked the Government “what steps they are taking to protect victims of domestic abuse.” The Bishop of Bristol asked as follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol [V]: My Lords, I add my voice to the concerns raised by many others in this House about how migrant women will be affected by the Domestic Abuse Bill. I thank the Government for their £1.5 million commitment to support research into the particular needs of this vulnerable group, but how many women is the scheme expected to support and what specific questions will the pilot be seeking to answer? Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government about plans to help migrant women suffering domestic abuse”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about funding for Female Offender Strategy

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”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about implementation of the Female Offenders 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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Bishop of Worcester asks Government about partnership with faith groups on support for victims of domestic violence

On 6th May 2020 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked a question in the House of Lords during its virtual proceedings, on domestic violence and support during the pandemic. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, we know that domestic abuse affects every community, including religious communities. Can the Minister assure the House that the Government are partnering with faith groups to raise awareness of available support during the pandemic? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks Government about partnership with faith groups on support for victims of domestic violence”

Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons

On 23rd April 2020 the House of Lords held a debate in its virtual proceedings, on a question from Lord German, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the prison population and offender rehabilitation programmes.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I echo what has been said already. I draw attention to my interests in the register, particularly the fact that I am president of the Nelson Trust. I will make just a few points.

The Secretary of State has argued that the public would not accept the early release of certain categories of prisoners. The Government need to be clearer with the public about the risks in a pandemic to prisoners, key workers and their families. The potential risk of low-level, non-violent offenders being released on licence is far outweighed by the risk of inaction and delay. Will the Government commit to put into the public domain as soon as possible substantial and transparent information about how the release programme is working and publish daily statistics about coronavirus in prison, including the impact on staff and those in custody?

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Bishop of Gloucester speech in International Women’s Day debate

On 10th March 2020 the House of Lords held a debate to mark International Women’s Day, on a motion from Baroness Berridge, “That this House takes note of International Women’s Day and the United Kingdom’s role in advancing equalities for women everywhere.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate, highlighting the issues of global education, violence against women and women’s treatment in the criminal justice system:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, it is a privilege to participate in this debate, although I am disappointed not to be in New York at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which was cancelled last week. This event was to celebrate the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, published 25 years ago, which saw countries agree to dedicate themselves unreservedly to addressing constraints and obstacles to gender equality, thus enhancing the empowerment of women and girls all over the world. There is still much to do. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester speech in International Women’s Day debate”