Justice Minister launches consultation on a new strategy for supporting and challenging women and girls in contact with the justice system.

Date published: 14 January 2021

Justice Minister Naomi Long today launched a public consultation on ‘Empowering Change in Women’s Lives: Strategy for supporting and challenging women and girls in contact with the justice system.’

Picture of Naomi Long

The consultation will consider the proposed strategic approach to support and challenge women and girls who are on the cusp of offending or who have already turned to crime.  With a focus on working with women and girls throughout their contact with the justice system and particularly at an earlier stage to assist them in following a pathway away from offending. 

Naomi Long said: Every year there are a small number of women and girls who come in contact with the justice system, because of their behaviour. 

We want to adopt an approach that focuses on the range of contact with justice; on what can be done to prevent and divert women and girls from crime; supporting them to change in the community; and helping improve their lives and circumstances on the occasion they enter and leave custody.

This approach is about recognising, from both research evidence and lived experience, that patterns and drivers of offending behaviour for women and girls are distinct and different to male offenders, as are their needs when they interact with the justice system. That means that a properly targeted strategy for supporting and rehabilitating women and girls is the best way of ensuring they take responsibility for their actions and address the harm caused by their behaviour, and move beyond the justice system to live healthier, stable and more productive lives.  I am keen to get your views.”

The consultation document has been developed with key partners across Justice (Youth Justice Agency, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Prison Service, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service) and the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Department for Communities.

Notes to editors: 

1.  Further information on this consultation, including the full consultation document and ways to respond, can be found at the consultation section of this website or alternatively on citizenspace via nidirect website

2.  The deadline for response is 12 March.

3.  Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office, 028 9052 6444.

4.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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