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The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed news that a pioneering new court is to be established in Birmingham that will tackle female offenders to help them break the cycle of crime. 

The new ‘Problem-Solving Court’ will seek to refer female offenders into support services which treat issues that could be fuelling offending, such as mental ill health, drink or drug addictions or domestic abuse.

As one of his flagship policies, the PCC led the bid for the new pilot alongside key partners in the courts and Probation Service. It also attracted support from across third sector and criminal justice agencies.

Under unique orders which can be issued by the courts, offenders will see the same judge at least once a month, have intense support and supervision from the Probation Service, and get wraparound services tailored to their individual needs – such as from substance misuse agencies, housing support and educational services.

Birmingham is getting one of the new courts, as part the £8.25 million government trial which will see up to five launched. The others are intended to focus specifically on substance misuse and domestic abuse.

The women who will be primarily targeted by the new court will all have a history of reoffending and will be at risk of a short-term prison sentence.

This new tough approach to tackling reoffending is being celebrated by the West Midlands as the PCC and his team have long recognised the importance of tackling what are sometimes invisible drivers of crime: “This news is warmly welcomed here in our region”, said Simon Foster the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We know we have to be really tough on the causes of crime and sadly the revolving door of prison isn’t tough enough to work in isolation.

“We have to hold people to account for their crimes, but we also have to ensure they don’t do it again as soon as they step back out onto the streets.

“Dealing with the causes of crime is common sense. It can save the taxpayer millions of pounds and reduce the number of victims.”

Helping lead this work, Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil said: “Evidence shows us that many women are pulled into crime due to a mix of deep-rooted problems often including domestic abuse, poverty, addiction and exploitation.

“This innovative new court pilot will make it easier for crime prevention agencies to work together to tackle these issues; reducing reoffending, improving life chances and avoiding the huge cost of crime to society”. 

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