Outline of our offering in offender management


Established solution – highly nuanced to a high-risk cohort – cost-effective – impact-evaluated
multi-centre local delivery


‘Baroness Corston’s report: A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system made a series of recommendations to bring about improvements …………  Now, six years after her report, we found that it is well recognised that women face very different hurdles from men in their journey towards a law abiding life, and that responding appropriately and effectively to the problems that bring women into the criminal justice system requires a distinct approach.’

Justice Select Committee report Women Offenders: After the Corston Report, July 2013

Women’s Breakout

Women’s Breakout is an infrastructure organisation networking 48 organisations delivering gender-specific interventions for women offenders and those at risk of offending. Its vision is to see gender specific approaches integrated into mainstream rehabilitation provision thereby contributing to a significant reduction in the number of women in custody and a reduction in the number of those coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

Our member organisations are doing an extraordinary job of providing vital services to vulnerable women. Some of them are very small organisations, stretched to the absolute limit in direct service delivery. Women’s Breakout has a unique role as a central organisation that

•    Assists commissioners to understand what we mean by a ‘distinct approach’
•    Helps our members to show that they are providing that distinct approach – and evidence that it works
•    Brings a specific and different perspective of the service users themselves
•    Ensures that a collective expert voice is heard in initiatives that have relevance for women who have offended or who are at risk of offending.

Outcomes for Women Offenders

Targeted outcomes for all offenders, based both on Government policy which drives the commissioning environment and societal needs, are a reduction in reoffending and a reintegration with society: employment, community and family.

Following the Corston report it is widely recognised that women offend and reoffend for different reasons from men. For women re-offending is often driven by the chaos in their lives and their social situation, which often will include poor mental health, abuse and trauma, and poor relationships with men.

For women, prison is far less effective as a deterrent or a reforming opportunity than for men; and for the majority of women it is a deeply damaging experience. In the year to March 2013, 264 women per 1,000 in custody self harmed, compared to 70 men per 1,000; and among the female prison population there were 1,547 incidents per 1,000 prisoners as compared with 200 incidents per 1,000 prisoners in the male estate. Many women sentenced to custody will lose their homes, their children, their social circle – and these and other factors mean that women leaving custody have very complex needs. Without a very different form of support, outcomes are poor, in terms of:

•    return to or resorting to acquisitive crime, and street working, for money
•    resorting to drugs and alcohol
•    frequent encounters with perpetrators of domestic violence
•    poor housing situations and frequent moves; losses to landlords
•    inability to care for children effectively.

Our work and experience

Women with multiple and complex needs will sometimes offend. It is widely accepted that when they do offend, they respond best if they are supported by gender-specific interventions in community based provision.

The Women’s Breakout members are a series of 48 Women’s Community Projects set up to work with cohorts of women who have offended and women at risk of offending following the Corston report. They provide a range of services to vulnerable women.

With a proven successful model, the WCPs provide services to women offenders across England and Wales, in parallel and to a similar model to the provision to other women.

Our offering to Primes in Offender Management

For primes wishing to bid for one of the block contracts for offender management, we offer:

•    effective interventions delivering relevant outcomes in terms of lowered reoffending rates, and reintegration with society, which align with Departmental deliverables and targets
•    a ready-made solution that is already running, with all the advantages of avoiding set-up costs, without the disadvantages of taking on unknown staff and corporate risk
•    a lower cost, but highly individualised offering, recognised by referring agencies , and structured to deliver to low volumes of ex-offenders needing a highly localised provision
•    a pre-established system for impact measurement that complies with best EU and UK Government standards.

This enables them to focus on the male offering, removing the need to provide a tailored service in small volumes across a wide area, or to balance under-delivery for this minority with the successful delivery of outcomes for the male majority.

We are working with Jim Clifford OBE, of Baker Tilly, one of the leaders in the development of networked delivery by non-profits, and social investment, recognised in the pre-G8 speech by David Cameron for his work in the adoption arena, and the author of one of the leading impact studies on the Corston centres, to develop a networked offering that will add single-purchase consistency and sub-commissioning. This will be a plug-and-play solution.

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About Women’s Breakout