Women and children hold key to tackling our failing criminal justice system according to new research

Experts from the University of Birmingham and the Centre for Welfare Reform are calling for a radical change to the criminal justice system which continues to fail victims. According to a major new policy paper, the current system draws already scarce resources into damaging and inefficient practices. The report argues that the best place to begin reform is with women and children; both minorities within the system who are disproportionately affected by crime.

Local Justice Family-focused Reinvestment, written by Clare Hyde MBE, former CEO of WomenCentre, and edited by Professor Jon Glasby, Director of the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre, with Dr Simon Duffy and Dr Catherine Needham, calls for a redirection of resources towards effective, low cost preventative supports and interventions that help to improve the awareness and responsiveness of whole communities.

The paper outlines a correlation between victims of crime and criminal activity, with significant evidence linking offending behaviour to early childhood abuse, violence and neglect: highlighting the fine line between being a victim and becoming a perpetrator of crime.

Women as matriarchs of the family are the key to breaking the vicious cycle of victimhood and offending; the paper suggests it is their acceptance of violence and abuse, their low expectations for themselves and their children and their ultimate inability to protect themselves, that often leads to criminal activity. 

Four strategies are proposed which will enable better investment of funding and support to target vulnerable individuals and families:  

• Place initial focus on women children and families; the linchpins of society which may be the key to tackling crime for the whole community

• Create a new financial system where local areas have an incentive to invest in their own communities, rewarding low levels of criminal activities with increased levels of local investment

• Change the way funding is used locally by focusing spending on communities, families and individuals

• Use personalisation methods to tackle family problems

Lead author, Clare Hyde MBE, explains:

“Justice Reinvestment and personalisation will be crucial to a transformation of the current system which should look to resource allocation systems currently employed in education, health and social care to give back control and provide hope for the future for those most at risk of criminal activity.”

Editor, Professor Jon Glasby, adds:

“The government is committed to a policy of personalisation in health and social care, but we believe that the same principles could influence other areas of social policy. Perhaps personalisation could even be an organising principle for the welfare state more generally, helping to make a reality of the government’s ‘Big Society’. 

“Criminal justice and personalisation don’t usually go together in policy debates, but this policy paper shows how more personalised approaches could radically change the way we think about and deliver current services.”

Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform says:

“There are successful models for reducing reoffending and for keeping women and families safe – but current policy undermines these models and instead invests in solutions that reinforce failure and social injustice.”

For more information, please contact Professor Jon Glasby via 0121 414 7068 or

j.glasby@bham.ac.uk or Clare Hyde MBE via clare@foundationforfamilies.org.uk

Further media information

Amy Cory, University of Birmingham Press Office, Tel: 0121 414 6029 or a.cory@bham.ac.uk. 

Notes to Editors

This paper summarises HSMC and Birmingham’s contribution to a discussion which took place at a policy dinner hosted by Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, and attended by a number of leading health and social care stakeholders and commentators.

About HSMC

HSMC has been one of the leading UK centres for research, personal and organisational development in healthcare for nearly 40 years. Commissioning of healthcare and provision of healthcare outside hospitals have become specific areas of expertise in recent years, underpinned by a continuing commitment to issues of quality improvement and public and patient engagement. This reputation also includes adult social care, with a growing track record in inter-agency commissioning and provision of health and social care services. HSMC has also developed a national reputation for both organisational and leadership development across all health settings.

For further information visit: www.hsmc.bham.ac.uk

The Centre for Welfare Reform

The Centre for Welfare Reform is a research and development network committed to the redesign of the welfare state and the promotion of social justice, citizenship, family and community. It was established in 2009 and has a wide-range of Fellows who are experts in public service reform and innovation.

For further information: contact the Centre for Welfare Reform on: 0114 251 0228

Clare Hyde MBE

Clare Hyde MBE is the owner Director of the recently established Foundation for Families a community interest company which aims to create a stronger and more just society by working directly with and amplifying the voices of underrepresented families and communities. The Foundation for Families focus is upon those families and communities with the highest levels of unmet need. The Foundation for Families is a membership organisation and is building a diverse, non partisan membership which will include families and communities, health and social care organisations and professionals, criminal justice reformers, offenders, former offenders, the legal profession, mental health organisations and advocates, victims of crime and their advocates, child welfare professionals, various faith communities, business owners, and interested individuals who share the Foundation for Families values and aims.