This week, Home Office funding to help vulnerable women turn their backs on crime has been announced for six regions throughout the UK, with the North East noticeably being missed off the list.
Police and Crime Commissioners across the region have described the absence of cash as a blow against helping prevent less fortunate women from the North East turning to crime’.
Vulnerable women at risk of committing crime in the areas successful with funding are set to benefit from tailored, targeted support to break the cycle of reoffending and turn their lives around for good. More than £800,000, has been made available in an announcement by Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, with the aim of increasing the support on offer to female offenders both behind bars and in the community. Successful areas are: Lancashire, Shropshire, Norfolk, Sussex, Surrey and Devon.
All three North East PCC’s submitted bids to the Home Office fund, with the hope of establishing programmes to reduce re-offending and improve quality of life for vulnerable female offenders.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: “This money is to help women turn their backs on crime, but people might think that what the Home Office is doing is turning its back on vulnerable women of the North East. Money to provide joined-up, tailored support for local women at risk of crime, helping them turn their lives around would be welcome in every area. This is extremely disappointing.”
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: “It is very disappointing to find that support to vulnerable women has been reduced to a postcode lottery and that the North East has not been allocated a penny of funding to help break the cycle of re-offending. There are women within the Criminal Justice System who are vulnerable and often turn to crime purely to survive – they need specialist and targeted support. Our aim is to turn them away from crime but our work has been made harder by the Home Office’s lack of support, which comes on top of the substantial budget cuts of recent years. The North-East has some of the most deprived wards in the country and I am frustrated that, once again, this has not been recognised by the Home Office.”
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner said: “Not only is this decision iniquitous, it is bewildering when Durham Constabulary successfully ran a diversion project to reduce re-offending. My office will be querying with the Home Office why the North East has not been included.”