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16 Mar 2022

APPG on Women in the Penal System calls for girls to be moved out of Wetherby prison

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System (APPG) has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on Wetherby prison, published today (Wednesday 16 March).

Wetherby is a prison that usually holds boys aged 15 to 18. When inspectors visited in December 2021, there were about 140 boys – but also three girls, who had been moved to the prison at short notice following the closure of places elsewhere. The girls were housed in the prison’s Napier Unit.

The placement of girls in prisons has been opposed by the APPG for more than a decade – in line with the recommendations of the Corston Report, a wide-ranging 2007 review commissioned by the Home Office, which looked into the treatment of women and girls in the criminal justice system.

In a briefing published in 2012, the APPG stated that units for girls in adult prisons should be closed as they were not appropriate places for girls. The last three units in adult prisons were decommissioned in 2013.

Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Debbie Abrahams MP, Co-Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, said: “It has been known for many years that girls should not be in prison, so it is unacceptable that three have been placed in Wetherby because of failure at a national level to plan effectively.

“Ministers must look again at this situation and come up with a sustainable long-term solution that ensures girls get the care and support they need.”

Inspectors found that the care that the girls received from staff at Wetherby was good, although they received less time out of their cells than boys – about five-and-a-quarter hours per day on weekdays.

Records showed that girls had self-harmed 14 times in the past six months – a higher rate than seen among boys – and use of force against girls was high. There had been 12 instances of use of force against girls during their short time in the prison, including seven against one girl in particular.

Notes to editors

  1. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in the Penal System (APPG) was set up in July 2009, with Baroness Corston as Chair and research and administrative support from the Howard League for Penal Reform. Today, it is co-chaired by Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Debbie Abrahams MP, with Baroness Corston as Honorary President.
  2. The APPG comprises MPs and Members of the House of Lords from all parties and works to increase knowledge and awareness of issues around women in the penal system, as well as push for the full implementation of the recommendations of The Corston Report: A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system. The report can be viewed online: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20130206102659/http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/corston-report-march-2007.pdf
  3. More information about the work of the APPG can be found on the Howard League website at: https://howardleague.org/our-work/women-in-the-penal-system/all-party-parliamentary-group-appg-on-women-in-the-penal-system/
  4. Inquiry on girls: From courts to custody, a 2012 briefing published by the APPG which recommended that units for girls in adult prisons should be closed, can be found on the Howard League website at: https://howardleague.org/publications/inquiry-on-girls-from-courts-to-custody/
  5. The Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons report on Wetherby prison can be viewed online from Wednesday 16 March at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
The Howard League for Penal Reform
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955

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