THE HARD EDGES OF WOMEN IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM – Community Justice Glasgow’s Hard Edges Event
By KAREN BAXTER, Policy Officer, Community Justice Glasgow
Community Justice Glasgow facilitates the Glasgow Working group on Women and Offending, which brings together partners from across the city who are involved in working with women who have contact with justice services. This includes universal services as well as dedicated community justice services. The group, in partnership with its national counterpart, the Scottish Working Group on Women’s Offending and Turningpoint Scotland, hosted an event to launch the Lankelly Chace report “Hard Edges Scotland” with a focus on women and justice. This report aims to open up new conversations about severe and multiple disadvantage, the reasons behind why women become involved in the criminal justice system. Lankelly Chase provided a grant to allow us to host such a conversation and help launch this research.
This event took place on 29/10/19 and brought together partners from all over Glasgow and indeed Scotland, with a strong emphasis on lived and living experience. The main focus of the day was a panel conversation with women who had themselves experienced the issues highlighted in the report.
They were able to explain the human side of the research findings and how this also impacted upon their wider families. There were participants from academia and from a service provision background to join the conversation. Workshop exercises helped to draw out feedback for the Scottish Government on what our priorities should be going forward, based on the wealth of experience of those who took part on the day. The Scottish Working Group on Women’s Offending will produce a report to capture the day’s outputs.
The main lesson learned were that early intervention is necessary to divert women away from entering the justice system in the first place; services should be informed by those who use them and easy to access; court reports are an opportunity to provide a holistic picture for sentencers, including information from all services working with the women; and prison services could be more trauma informed, with accessing throughcare encouraged, and reduced reliance on remand.
Feedback from the event illustrated that the high proportion of women with lived experience who participated is what made this event so successful, ensuring the focus of the day was not just on statistics. This ensured that the priorities that were gleaned were informed by those who are most qualified to share their experience of what works.