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and access to some services; no (or little) involvement in local movements and political activity: for example, political elections

community groups and citizen duties such as voting in elections

The above chart indicates the full range of primary exclusions which may affect all citizens. However for the purposes of evaluating hypothesis 1.1c. only those exclusions identified at 1.1b. above as being known to be strategic in the careers of women prisoners will be considered.

In recent years, all aspects of English women prisoners’ primary exclusion have been recognised in a range of research studies and in campaigning and official reports (see Carlen 1988, 1998, 2002b; Worrall 1990; Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons 1997; Prison Reform Trust 2000; Home Office 2000; Social Exclusion Unit 2002; Fawcett Society 2004; Home Office Women’s Offending Reduction Programme 2004). They have also been addressed by a raft of welfare measures to help single mothers get back to work: the publication since 1991 of separate statistics on women and the criminal justice system; and, in 1998, the setting up within the Prison Service of the Women’s Policy Group (WPG) with the aim of ensuring that in future women prisoners’ different needs were recognised and addressed. None the less, there has been constant asseveration by workers in the field that the recognition is more in the form of ‘paper recognition’ than actual implementation in effective policies. Several agents we interviewed for this

research expressed similar opinions: They have begun to recognise that women’s needs are different to men’s but the rising women’s prison population is mitigating against them doing anything. And why did they get rid of the Women’s Policy Group, if they were so committed to women? (A. 20)

Yes, they recognise that women are different, but there is not much being done about it. (A. 14)

They recognise it, yes. But there’s not much being done about it. (A.5)

All the programmes are designed for men still. Cognitive skills programmes designed for men are still being delivered. (A.24)

There are still comparatively few gender specific programmes. (A.21)

Yes, they recognise women’s difference on paper. In practice? No! (A.23)

No, they don’t recognise women’s needs. I think the female estate is tagged on to the end of the male estate. (A. 4)

I still have to explain to men and women that women prisoners are different. There are still the ideological barriers that see them all as ‘just prisoners’. (A.10)

I don’t think there’s any special emphasis on women’s needs, women’s offending or women’s social circumstances in this prison. The emphasis is on self harm and health care, medication and mental health. (A.3)

When the WPG was disbanded in 2004 it was feared that the needs of women would once more be relegated to being of subsidiary concern in Prison Service Policy. However, in summer 2004 the Prison Service’s new Women’s Team (made up of several staff of the old WPG) presented its Business Plan for 2004, its strategic priorities being:

  • Safety and Health: drug strategy (including detoxification); suicide and self

  • -

    injury prevention; health services)


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