In 2015/16 nationally 26% of female offenders reported having experienced some form of domestic abuse at some point in their adult life, compared with 14% of men. Women were also twice as likely to have experienced non-sexual partner abuse, family abuse and stalking. Women were considerably more likely to have experienced sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault as men, with 20% of women saying they had experienced this since ages 16 compared with only 1 in 25 men (4%)24.

Unresolved trauma and chaotic lifestyles can keep female offenders in the revolving door of offending.  Many are suffering from complex issues involving mental health, substance misuse and sexual exploitation.  Most women in contact with criminal justice are still subject to generic systems & practices evolved in response to men’s offending. Tackling the root cause of female offending requires gender specific approaches.  The Hampton Trust has developed a trauma informed, group work programme designed to engage women and tackle vulnerabilities unique to female offending.

We are working in partnership with Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Hampshire Constabulary to pilot an intervention for females as part of a conditional caution.  WaDE (Women & Desistance Empowerment programme) will include two workshops designed to assist female offenders to live safe, offence-free lives, promoting desistance and managing the effects of previous trauma including historic domestic/sexual abuse. It also promotes opportunities for women to exit sex work.

Post arrest an eligibility criterion will triage women to WaDE, providing opportunities for diversion to tailored women’s services.  This will include previous offending history, admittance of offence, views of the victim and whether WaDE has potential to adequately address, support and reduce risk of offending.     Two workshops co-facilitated by The Hampton Trust practitioners will meet the complex needs of female offenders. Content includes:  offending behaviour, impact of offending behaviour, trigger behaviours, attitudes/thinking, historic abuse & exploitation, vulnerability/protective factors, self-esteem, health & wellbeing and goal setting.

This pilot is currently taking place in Portsmouth.  During the next twelve months we will share case studies on the website.

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