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Servicewomen’s experiences of the community drug and alcohol treatement system research
Commissioning LeadAlethea Fuller
Period1st August 2022 – 23rd December 2022
Value of Research£15,000.00

The Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and The JABBS Foundation are seeking a partner to conduct research into women’s experiences of the community drug and alcohol treatment system in the West Midlands; spanning Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton local authority areas.

In December 2021, the Government published their new Drugs Strategy (From Harm to Hope’) which sets out their 10-year plan to tackle drug-related harm.

Unfortunately, this has little reference to women and girls – with only 3 mentions of ‘women’ and no mention of ‘girls’ in the whole strategy. Furthermore, there is no mention of other strategies regarding women (e.g. ‘Female Offender Strategy (2018)’), despite the level of need that women and girls in the criminal justice system have around substance use.

Funding attached to the strategy will shortly be made available to local authorities for drug and alcohol related activity. This research has the potential to inform and influence the way local authorities allocate this funding to ensure that commissioned services meet the needs of all service users.

Though the research will be based on the needs and experiences of women in the West Midlands, we are keen that it provides a blueprint for decision makers across the UK, to ensure that sufficient funding is being allocated to meet women’s specific and complex needs.

The research should comprise of*:

  • A comparative study of the new Government Drug Strategy, suggesting where a gendered-lens ought to be applied; utilising and reflecting on potential join up with the ‘Female Offender Strategy (2018)’, the ‘Concordat on women in or at risk of contact with the CJS (2021)’, ‘The Corston Report (2007)’ and other relevant strategies/literature (see below for list of suggested documents);
  • Scope existing provision and the effectiveness for women and girls within this, including rehabilitation facilities and the effectiveness of referral pathways into local drug/alcohol providers;
  • Identify any gaps in data and areas where data collection around women’s needs and experiences of the drug and alcohol treatment system could be improved;
  • Examine whether there is a difference between written policy and operational practice in treatment services;
  • Assess local women’s centres’ and other women’s specialist services’ experience of supporting women to access drug and alcohol services and the role these services could play in the delivery of the drugs strategy;
  • Engage with women to gain qualitative feedback around their experiences of drug and alcohol services. Practitioners should also be spoken to, as a point of comparison and learning. This engagement should discuss referral pathways in, the treatment service itself and onward referrals where applicable;
  • The research should also clearly identify and set out recommendations emerging from the findings that would enable a gender-responsive application of the drugs strategy and its associated funding, in particular where synergies can be made with existing strategies that seek to address women’s multiple and complex needs.
  • We are particularly interested in taking an intersectional approach which allows for data, information and findings to be disaggregated and analysed across the different protected characteristics, as well as substance use type (including alcohol). Efforts to improve data disaggregation and monitoring of the needs and experiences of specific groups will provide better data to influence allocation of funding under the drug strategy (e.g. under the National and Local Outcomes Frameworks). This can also be used to feed into ongoing efforts to improve metrics and data collection on women in contact, or at risk of contact, with the criminal justice system, as the National Audit Office recommended is central to the Government meeting its goals under the Female Offender Strategy (2018).

How to Apply:

If you are interested in working with the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and The JABBS Foundation to conduct this research, then please submit a research proposal to Imogen Cheatham at [email protected] by 5pm, Friday 1st July 2022.

The research proposal should be a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research plan and methodology and detail how you will deliver against the research specification above*. Please also indicate a cost breakdown of your proposed research activity if possible.