Transforming the response to domestic abuse

Closes 31 May 2018

Supporting female offenders

We know that female offenders often have complex issues including a background of abuse. We recognise the major part that domestic abuse can play in female offending with over 60% of female offenders indicating they have experienced domestic abuse.[1]

Female offenders

One woman described how she ended up offending in order to support her drug use, while under the control of her partner:

“I had been smoking heroin before I met him. He injected me for the first time as he said he wanted me to be safe. From then I’d just be out of it – he’d go out and steal and then come back and inject me and I’d just be lying there.

I was only 18 myself and was with him for seven or eight years. I was completely reliant on him, completely emotionally dependent. He wanted me to watch over and sell the stolen goods. It was the only way to get the money for the heroin. I ended up going to prison for him for theft.” [2]

The Ministry of Justice is investing £1million seed funding in six local areas to develop a ‘Whole System Approach’ to female offenders.

This model brings together local agencies (criminal justice, statutory and voluntary) to provide joined-up, targeted holistic support to address the often complex needs of female offenders, including domestic abuse. Women’s centres are at the heart of many of these models.


[1] Of the women assessed using OASys, 67% of those in custody or managed in the community by the National Probation Service, and 61% of those managed in the community by the Community Rehabilitation Companies, indicated that they had been victims of domestic violence. Taken from National Offender Management Service (2015). Better Outcomes for Women Offenders

[2] Prison Reform Trust (2017). There’s a reason we’re in trouble

13. How can we work better with female offenders and vulnerable women at risk of offending to identify their domestic abuse earlier? Please select your top 3.

14. How can we make greater use of women-specific services to deliver interventions in safe, women-only environments? Please select your top 3.