‘Keeping a face for the world’ is a new report from West Yorkshire Finding Independence. The report focuses on women with multiple needs, considering how custodial sentences have affected women’s journeys through WY-FI. The report also considers how COVID-19 has influenced the recovery of women.
The report recommendations that alternatives to prison should be prioritised, especially in the case of lesser offences or recall, where there is no threat to people. These alternatives gives women more opportunities to access community-based support to sustain their recovery and ensures the best possible outcomes for them. They also help to reduce the costs to public services, including the criminal justice system.
The report goes onto say that alternatives to prison should include a person-centred, trauma-informed, gender specific and multi-agency package of support. This is the approach that has underpinned WY-FI delivery in West Yorkshire, led by Multiple Needs Navigators alongside Peer Mentor support.
Mark Burns-Williamson, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner in West Yorkshire says, ““I am very pleased and proud to be able to support this research work, which shines a light on how it feels to be a service user, and how our service delivery model needs to change. I am already supporting work to ensure that those women most at risk of returning to prison, are offered an alternative, with a bespoke package of care and support in place for them.
Mark goes onto say, “the criminal justice system in general requires reform, and this research provides fresh evidence of what Baroness Corston told us some years ago; that using a model of rehabilitation based on the needs of men, when we are treating women, can be catastrophic, and will continue to impact negatively on generations to come.”
WY-FI has based its report on detailed analysis of the experiences of 296 women whilst they were on caseload with the project. This analysis has looked in detail at their needs on entry into WY-FI, how long they were on caseload, the services they used in relation to their needs and their outcomes and exits.
The data and evidence used was gathered by WY-FI between June 2014 – May 2020, when it was providing direct support to more than 820 people with multiple needs from across West Yorkshire – 296 of these people were women.
The report also includes peer research, with members of the WY-FI network holding focus groups to gather insight on multiple needs, and in particular reoffending needs, amongst women.
‘Keeping a face for the world’ is the first in a series of reports that WY-FI s producing for the National Lottery Community Fund Fulfilling Lives Programme and the West Yorkshire Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).