Pilot aims to rehabilitate rather than convict Surrey women

A pilot project to help arrested "vulnerable women" avoid a criminal record has been agreed in Surrey.

Issues including domestic violence and drug dependency can affect a woman's chance of reoffending, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said.

The pilot starting on 4 May aims to reduce the risk by keeping women who have been arrested out of the criminal justice system.

Suitable women will be offered a rehabilitation scheme instead.

The Women's Justice Intervention at Woking Women's Centre will be a joint effort between Surrey Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Surrey County Council and other agencies.

Greater impact

The PCC said there is often more of a "grey area" between a woman's status as an offender or victim than is the case for men.

Mental health issues, domestic violence, drink and drug dependency, childcare and housing problems can all impact on chances of stopping criminal activity, it added.

And it said women face greater impacts on their lives and families if convicted of a crime, especially if they serve a prison sentence.

Women accepted on the scheme will be bailed for 60 days while their cases are referred to a panel which will decide the best way to help them avoid crime.

Newly-funded staff at the centre will be able to take up 40 additional women per month, the PCC said.

Kevin Hurley, Surrey PCC, said: "I believe this initiative is money well-spent, with a potential win/win result.

"First, a reduction in crimes which create a sense of insecurity among Surrey residents, and second to restore women as productive members of society and cause less damage to their families."

A fund of almost £150,000 has been allocated for the project.

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