Help for women offenders

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A NEW initiative has been set up in Nelson to help women offenders get the help they need to start turning their life around.

Pendle Women’s Programme is a series of two-hour workshops targeted at offenders to help address their specific needs.

The overall aim is to help the women feel more empowered and able to make informed choices about their future, as well as reduce re-offending and the risk of harm they pose.

Nelson’s Senior Probation Officer Anne Munro said: “We have designed this programme in line with the Government’s Alternatives to Custody for Women initiative. This was determined after Baroness Corston’s study in 2006 which concluded that women within the criminal justice system should be provided with more community based penalties.”

Probation Officer Kate Fryer came up with the idea and has been instrumental in driving it forward. She said: “We hope that this Women’s Programme will be the first step in Pendle towards making more options available in the sentencing of women, and options that are more appropriate to their own needs, which are often quite complex.”

The Women’s Programme in Pendle is a series of eight sessions, which covers topics such as anti-social behaviour, restorative justice and the police, housing and homelessness, fire safety, employment, substance misuse and domestic violence.

Karen Fitzpatrick, Anti-Social Behaviour Case Work Manager for Lancashire Police, led one of the sessions. She said: “The Pendle Women’s programme provides an opportunity for women offenders to engage with other agencies, who can offer them advice support and information in relation to matters that can affect their lives.

“I spoke with a group of women about anti-social behaviour, the impact on people’s lives and what they can do to address it, and also what they can do if it is affecting them. As a police officer, it also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate just one of the many different aspects of policing. This was well received, and it enabled me to show that the police don’t work in isolation from other agencies.”