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Women serving community orders, for low level offences in Birmingham, will be closely monitored by judges, as part of a new pilot scheme.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, has welcomed the opportunity to establish an Intensive Supervision Court in the region.

It forms part of a new community sentencing approach, to tackle the root causes of offenders’ behaviour, help them change their ways and cut reoffending.

Through the pilot – launched in Birmingham Magistrates’ Court this week – when a woman is sentenced, the judge will order them to attend regular review meetings, to check they are abiding by the requirements of their community sentence.

They will also have access to specialist drug and alcohol treatment, to help them tackle any substance misuse, which could be driving their behaviour. At the same time, they will receive intensive supervision from the Probation Service, which could include frequent and random drug testing.

They will also have support, accessing education, employment and housing.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “I welcome the opportunity to establish an innovative Intensive Supervision Court in the West Midlands, that will focus on women in the criminal justice system. We know that women are all too often in the criminal justice system, because of mental ill health, alcohol or drug use, domestic abuse or criminal exploitation.

“I am committed to delivering the Intensive Supervision Court model, because I believe it will prevent, tackle and reduce crime. That means there will be fewer victims of crime, less pressure on the police and our public services, less impact on the criminal justice system, it will break the cycle of crime, save taxpayers money, promote rehabilitation and provide women who are within the criminal justice system, with an opportunity to make a positive contribution to society.”

The PCC said there will be a holistic approach, with each intervention be tailored specifically to each woman based on the Women’s Risk and Needs Assessment. It is also an opportunity to see services co-locating and working together in an effective and efficient new way.

The PCC has also enabled our New Chance service, an adult diversion scheme for women based in the West Midlands and delivered by Anawim and Black Country Women’s Aid, to support the Intensive Supervision Court, to ensure it adequately and effectively meets the needs of women, within the criminal justice system.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Damian Hinds, said: “It’s absolutely right that the most serious criminals get the punishment they deserve but we need to make sure we are re-routing low-level offenders back onto the straight and narrow.

“These innovative new courts will mean offenders will see the same judge at least every month to keep tabs on their progress, offer incentives for them to clean up their act and ultimately keep them from reoffending.”

The pilot, which forms part of the Government’s 10-Year Drug Strategy, and was made possible following the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act 2022, with a statutory instrument laid in Parliament last month to launch the 18-month pilot.

Phil Bowen, Director for the Centre of Justice Innovation said: “The evidence suggests that, by combining wraparound supervision with regular judicial oversight which holds people and services to account, we can make a material difference to offending. These pilots allow us to test the effectiveness of these approaches in order to inform decisions on any potential wider roll-out.”

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