flexible working policies, relative to the proportion of women staff who do so, so a public authority may want to take steps to support more men to work on a flexible basis.
Once enough information has been collected to give a picture of gender equality priorities across the public authority, priority indicators in key areas should be identified for annual monitoring to allow the public authority to meet the specific duty to review progress.
Using data to develop the Women's Offending Reduction Programme – Home Office
Women make up 6% of the prison population and just one in five of known offenders1 and are therefore often forgotten in debates around criminal justice policy. However, between 1992 and 2002 the male prison population increased by 50%, while the female prison population increased by 173%.2 71% of women sentenced to prison in 2002 received a sentence of less than 12 months.3 55 % of women in prison have at least one child under 16.4 In 1993 there was one female suicide in custody, in 2003 there were 14.5 Half of women in prison have experienced domestic violence compared with 25% of the female population.6 Women are twice as likely as men to have received help for mental or emotional problems in the twelve months prior to custody and more likely to have a serious mental illness.7
The Women’s Offending Reduction Programme seeks to co-ordinate work across government departments and agencies to ensure that policies, services, programmes and other interventions respond more appropriately to the particular needs and characteristics of women offenders. A number of government departments, agencies and organisations are ‘stakeholders’ in the Programme. By ensuring the delivery of a co-ordinated multi-agency response to women’s offending, the Programme seeks to tackle the variety of factors which can affect why women offend, including poor housing, mental health problems, substance misuse, abuse, child care, education and employment.
By gathering data on the patterns and trends in women's offending, sentencing and the characteristics of women offenders, they are better able to identify issues and to track the progress of their work. The ultimate measure of success of the Programme will be a reduction in offending by women and fewer women held in custody.
The specific duties require listed public authorities to consult stakeholders when preparing a scheme. The requirement is to consult employees, service users and others (including trade unions) who appear to the authority to have an interest in the way the authority carries out its functions.
4 Social Exclusion Unit Report (July 2002): Reducing Re-offending by Ex-prisoners.
6 Home Office & Prison Service, Abuse, Interventions and Women in Prison: A Literature Review (London, Home Office, 2003).
7 Department of Health, Mainstreaming Gender and Women's Mental Health (London, Department of Health, 2003).