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Are females treated any differently in custody?

Owing to the complex needs associated with education; employment; income and family consequences of imprisonment, and the different range of offences committed by women, there are fundamental differences between male and female offenders. Therefore a different and distinct approach is needed for females in custody.

The Corston Report (2007) A Review of Women with Particular Vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System

When identifying additional needs and vulnerabilities of female detainees, the custody officer must consider:

  • the legal rights of girls under the age of 17 years
  • physical and medical welfare needs
  • child or dependent welfare issues (particularly for lone parents and foreign nationals)
  • access to female staff. Female detainees aged 17 years old and over should have access to a female member of  staff whose responsibility is to check on their welfare needs
  • conditions under which women are searched (with respect for privacy and dignity)
  • adequacy of clean replacement clothing
  • pregnancy, known or potential (particularly when considering modes of restraint, transportation, and the potential requirement for additional food or drinks)
  • mental health (in particular depression or suicidal thoughts)
  • increased risk of self-harm
  • domestic violence and abuse issues. (Studies have reported that as many as half of the women who have passed through the criminal justice system and then entered prison have experienced domestic violence.  Up to a third have been victims of sexual abuse.)
  • increased likelihood of drug addiction and/or alcoholism
  • the effects of child separation (where the detainee has a baby or infant).