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Reforms for female prisoners will improve ties with children

Sentences will be served as close to home as possible

Keeping women prisoners closer to home and giving them the skills to find employment so they turn their backs on crime for good are at the heart of reforms announced today by the new minister for female offenders, Lord McNally.

All women's prisons will become resettlement prisons so that offenders serve their sentence as close to home as possible, allowing them to maintain crucial family relationships, especially with children.

The new model will include the provision of employment opportunities for lower risk offenders, with staff forging close links with local employers and providing practical training so offenders are able to join the workforce on release.

These changes sit alongside the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms that will see every offender leaving prison given tailored support for at least 12 months, providing targeted access to programmes that help cut reoffending.

The reforms will help build on a falling female prison population, down by 10 per cent since 2010, alongside falling crime rates.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said:

"Keeping female prisoners as close as possible to their homes, and importantly their children, is vital if we are to help them break the pernicious cycle of re-offending.

"And providing at least a year of support in the community, alongside the means to find employment on release, will give them the best possible chance to live productive, law abiding lives."

The new approach to tackling female offending is set out in a number of reports which recognise the needs of female offenders are different from those of males. Many women who offend are themselves victims of domestic and sexual violence, with 53 per cent reporting childhood abuse; and many struggle with mental health issues with 49 per cent reporting to suffer from anxiety and depression.