I asked the Ministry of Justice about their plans for a Residential Women's Centre (RWC) in Wales. The RWC was proposed as an alternative to prison for women in Wales and, having worked with the Ministry of Justice throughout the proposals I am looking forward to hearing more about the plans.
Many women are sent to prison for low-level summary offences, and incarceration has a catastrophic effect on them and their families. The female offender strategy will see the first residential women’s centre sited in Wales that will provide accommodation and rehabilitation for vulnerable women. Can the Minister give an update on the progress of that centre in Wales? Will it house a families unit?
Answer, Minister Atkins:
I am grateful to my hon. Friend because, as she will know, because she has a particular interest in the area, there are women in the criminal justice system who have been the victims of crime, including domestic abuse. Of course there are women who commit incredibly serious crimes—indeed, sadly, we have seen them in the news recently—and who must be imprisoned to serve their sentences. For the more vulnerable women who my hon. Friend talks about, however, we are looking seriously at and progressing our plans for a residential women’s centre in Wales. I cannot go into more detail at the moment, but I hope that I will be able to come back with an update in due course. It will provide an alternative for judges and magistrates in dealing with those particularly vulnerable female offenders who may benefit from the sort of intensive care that we hope to provide in such a centre, rather than putting them in prison.
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