The Welsh Government, together with the UK Government and Policing in Wales, are seeking to develop a more joined up approach to criminal justice in the country. Together with their justice partners, they have published “Blueprints” for the delivery of both Female Offending and Youth Justice services.
The Female Offending Blueprint for Wales (which you can find here) promises a whole-system approach, the main components of which are:
- Early intervention and prevention – including diversion and the development of options for trauma informed services to meet the needs of vulnerable women at risk of entering the justice system.
- Courts and sentencing – building confidence in alternatives to short-term custody and remand by developing a range of community-based solutions including secure, safe and reliable accommodation for women.
- Custody and resettlement – which includes the establishment of services to improve and maintain links between women in prison and their children and families.
- Research and evaluation – with the aim of further developing a Welsh evidence base.
The Blueprint sets out a set of guiding principles which highlight the fact that women who offend are often victims of crime themselves and adopts a public health approach using five key ways of working:
- A long-term approach seeking to break inter-generational cycles of crime.
- Prevention which aims to safeguard women and children and tackle root causes of offending behaviour.
- A collaborative approach.
- An integrative approach which aims to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of local communities.
- Valuing the input of those with lived experience of the justice system.
The Blueprint also promises a women-focused, gender-based and trauma-informed approach which responds to the specific, individualised needs of women offenders (rather than as one homogenous group) in order to reduce reoffending.
The All Wales Criminal Justice Board is charged with overseeing the delivery of the Blueprint through a range of specialist programmes and advisory groups commissioned by the All Wales Women in Justice Group with delivery at a local level overseen by Local Criminal Justice Boards. The accompanying implementation plan sets out 19 key objectives in support of these overall aims.
The Youth Justice Blueprint (which you can find here) highlights the importance of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and notes that those with four or more ACEs are 15 times more likely to commit violence and 20 times more likely to be imprisoned. Therefore the Blueprint is explicitly focused on preventing and minimising the impact of ACEs, of stopping inter-generational problems and developing resilience to improve life chances. Again, the emphasis is on the whole-system approach with an ambitious commitment to a rights-based and trauma-informed system.
The main components of the Youth Justice blueprint are:
- Targeted prevention
- Pre-court diversion
- Community services – with an emphasis on rolling out a trauma-based approach, developing the Enhanced Case
Management approach for complex and high risk cases and supporting the youth justice sector to improve practitioner skills in recognising and responding to trauma.
- Custody – exploring options for all Welsh children to be placed in secure accommodation in Wales and nearer to their home communities.
- Improved resettlement services.
- System oversight – strengthened partnership arrangements between the Welsh and UK governments to improve coordination and embed a proper trauma-informed approach to youth justice.
Again, the Blueprint sets out a set of key principles:
- A children first approach.
- A trauma-informed approach
- Aligning devolved and non-devolved services through shared vision and values in order to develop a properly coordinated whole system approach.
The Blueprint will be implemented through a specialist programme under the oversight of the Wales Youth Justice Advisory Panel and the implementation plan sets out 14 key objectives.
Clinks applauds this approach by the Welsh Government which sets out a clear vision and strategy for women and young offenders in Wales alongside a transparent set of measurable objectives. Clinks has been actively involved in the development of the Blueprints and is currently helping to plan a Women in Justice Summit event.