Alarm bells should ring over growing number of women in criminal justice system


Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd MP has expressed his alarm over the increasing number of women ending up in the criminal justice system.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System has announced a one-year independent inquiry into girls in the penal system, after discovering that 168,493 girls have been arrested by 37 police forces over the past three years.

Mr Llwyd, a member of the steering committee for the inquiry, warned that the UK Government’s plans to cut into the justice and policing budgets raised concerns over their ability to tackle this growing problem.

The inquiry will look at the reasons that lead to girls ending up in the criminal justice system as well as the treatment they receive when there. The inquiry will take evidence from the voluntary sector, public sector and government.

Plaid’s Elfyn Llwyd MP said:

“The number of girls who end up in prison in the UK is a stain on our justice system.

“The overwhelming majority of the girls who end up in custody are vulnerable and will have suffered neglect and abuse.

“Following the Corston report in 2006, many of us would have hoped that lessons would be learnt on how to deal with girls who end up in contact with the criminal justice system.

“We know that girls are less likely to commit serious or violent crime but that relationship problems feature strongly in leading them to commit criminal offences.

“Evidently though, our penal system has not yet managed to cope with the complex problems which girls in their custody are subjected to.

“With the dangers of large cut backs to the justice budget and the police and probation service, we have to make sure this issue doesn’t worsen or we risk creating a new generation of ‘lost girls’. I hope that the Government listens to the important findings and recommendations of this inquiry when it reports.”