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Women and Prison

Latest: Victims of domestic abuse will have more time to report their abuser to the police

There were protests in autumn 2021 because domestic abuse victims only have six months to report their experience to the police.  As a result many cases have not come to court.

However, the press has reported that the law will be changed.  Victims will now have more time to go to the police.  Read the BBC article about this here.

Cooperation with the Prison Reform Trust

Our national federation, Sigbi, has worked with the Prison Reform Trust for several years. The aim is to improve the conditions and outcomes for women affected by the criminal justice system.  Soroptimists across the country contributed to the national research that resulted in the Reducing Women’s Imprisonment report. 


The number of women in prison doubled between 1995 and 2010. Most women in prison serve short prison sentences for non-violent offences. Many have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.  There are few women’s prisons –  this means that  female offenders are most often in prisons far away from home.  In 95% of cases, any children in the family will have to leave the family home to live with grandparents or be taken into care.

Application of the government’s strategy

The Ministry of Justice published its Strategy for Female Offenders in June 2018.  One of the key measures to implement was the use of Women’s Centres to help women deal with the root causes of their offending. 

There are not yet enough centres of this kind in the country.   So Women in Prison (WIP) organised a Mass Lobby in Parliament on 26 June 2019. They wanted to get the attention of MPs about theimportant problem of Women’s Centres.   Some of our members participated in the Mass Lobby in London.  In response to the WIP campaigning , there was a debate in Westminster Hall on 24 July 2019.  Read the Hansard record of the debate here.

More on Women in Prison here.

Women’s Support Centre, Woking


Woking has the only Women’s Support Centre in Surrey,  On 26 July 2019, two of our members represented SI Woking & District during a visit to the Women’s Centre in Woking with local MP Jonathan Lord.

The Women’s Support Centre (WSC) offers a range of services to women.  One very successful service is the Checkpoint Plus Diversion Scheme, which started in 2016.

The WSC works closely with many organisations on this scheme: all Surrey local authorities, Surrey Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, National Probation Service, NHS Surrey, Public Health England, local and voluntary sector organisations.

Women’s Support Centre specialist case workers work with women – using a trauma-informed approach – to help them address their alleged offence and then follow a plan that aims to help them stay away from criminal activity and lead positive self-sustaining lives.    A successful outcome also means a positive impact on those surrounding the women concerned.

See the item on the cost of maternal imprisonment in our October news.  A positive outcome for women in trouble with the law is also a positive outcome for their families.