Debates between Baroness Sater and Lord Wolfson of Tredegar during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 17th Nov 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - part one & Committee stage part one

Prisons: Releasing Women into Safe and Secure Housing

Debate between Baroness Sater and Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Monday 21st March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely right, but we have seen a significant reduction in the number of women prisoners in the past three to four years. There will always be some women in prison, but the figures have gone down significantly. In addition, as we are talking about housing, four of the housing specialists that we have put into prisons are specifically in women’s prisons, so they are acutely aware of the particular needs of women prisoners. They are in Styal, Bronzefield, Peterborough and New Hall.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, we know that, sadly, a large number of women in prison were victims of domestic abuse before they started their sentence. This makes leaving to live in safe and secure housing vitally important—but equally important is psychological support. What are the Government doing to ensure that specialist mental health support and mentoring are available for all women leaving prison for as long as they need it?

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, this is obviously a very important issue. We have tried to join up the dots between the Prison Service and the NHS. The problem in the past was that women left prison, and the NHS did not know about them; the Prison Service had, so to speak, passed them on to nobody. The GP is the best way in which to access mental health support, in particular, in the community. Therefore, we are working with the Prison Service to make sure that the links between the Prison Service and the NHS are stronger and better.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Baroness Sater and Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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I appreciate that there is a range of ages across Europe. We are at 10; some are at 12; some are at 14; some are at other ages. I have sought to set out why we believe that 10 is the correct age, given the way that our criminal justice system deals with children. I appreciate that what I have said will not have persuaded the noble and learned Baroness, but it is not simply a question of looking at the age but at how the criminal justice system as a whole responds to very young offenders.

As far as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is concerned, Her Majesty’s Government believe that we are in compliance with our international obligations. Indeed, as the noble and learned Baroness will know, that convention was the subject of a recent Supreme Court decision on the different ways in which England—or to be more precise, the UK—and Scotland, which wants to incorporate it into domestic legislation, have applied that convention.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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I thank my noble friend the Minister for his response. On the jurisdiction of under-18 year-olds, it does not address the fact that they will not get all the wraparound services and support from the youth court and youth practitioners. Furthermore, if they go to the adult court, they will still not get a referral.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for the question, and for taking the time to discuss it with me in the past. Because the offender is 18 at the time of the case and of the sentence, the system has to respond to the fact that they are now adult. It may well be, in some cases, inappropriate to lump that adult in with children. Some sentences and responses that the youth court can give to children would be inappropriate for someone who is now an adult of 18. I suggest that the fact that the court starts with the sentence that would have been appropriate at the time of the offence, and then takes into account all other relevant factors, means that we deal with these cases suitably, bearing in mind the time gap before sentencing during which the offender has reached legal maturity.