This week my colleague for Stretford and Urmston secured a debate on the female offender strategy as we mark its first year anniversary of being drafted.
I wanted to focus on three main points within my contribution: the lack of a women’s centre in Wales; the lack of data sharing between the Ministry of Justice and the Welsh Government; and the need to rethink how we rehabilitate female offenders.
I was able to raise my report into prison education in Wales, which I was asked to investigate last year, and note how the limited access to Welsh language resources for female offenders from Wales. Moreover, my review found that there was a lack of knowledge on how women returning from prison to Wales will reintegrate with society.
I also raised my concerns that the number of drug and alcohol treatment orders issues. The number of these treatment orders, which ensure that we tackle the root causes of crime and not just the consequences of crime, have halved in recent years. The longer we go without finding solutions to the problems driving people towards crime the longer we will see reoffending taking place.
The debate was much needed and as the new government is formed we need them to take female offender reform seriously and get a grip of the reoffending rates.
Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs) were introduced by the last Labour Government from 2005. They were designed to ensure that dangerous violent and sexual offenders stayed in custody for as long as they presented a risk to society. Under the system, a person who had committed a specified violent or sexual offence would be given an IPP if the offence was not so serious as to merit a life sentence. Once they had served their “tariff” they would have to satisfy the Parole Board that they no longer posed a risk before they could be released.
IPPs were abolished in 2012, but not for existing prisoners.
There were 2,403 unreleased IPP prisoners in custody in England and Wales on 31 March 2019, which is the latest snapshot of the prison population at the time of writing. Ninety-eight per cent or 2,360 of these prisoners were male. There were only 43 unreleased female IPP prisoners.
I asked the Minister a series of questions on how he would ensure that any flaws remaining in the system were rectified and balanced with the need to keep dangerous offenders off our streets. We must always put the victim at the heart of our judicial system.
I am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for working at height. We recently published our review of the law and safeguards in place to protect those working at height. The debate secured today by the Chair of the APPG ensured us an opportunity to hold the UK Government to account and press them to adopt our proposals.
I asked a number of questions to the Minister, but the most important is how will he and his department reduce the number of fatalities of people working at height. 18% of all fatalities in the UK current at work are caused by a fall and although better than some of our neighbours in Europe we can still do better.
My colleague, Louise Haigh MP, secured a much needed debate in Parliament on the fall in life expectancy across the UK. I was able to use this debate to once again tell some hard truths to the Government minister in attendance.
Child poverty in some wards in Delyn is now reaching 50%. Child mortality is also rising across the UK. Action is needed now to stem the tide of growing poverty. If not this Government will have created a lost generation.