Public support for non-custodial sentences for women, poll finds.

Most people do not agree with sending women to prison for non-violent offences, it emerged today in the first poll of  public attitudes towards crime committed by women.

The UK-wide ICM survey found that two-thirds of people felt a jail sentence was not likely to reduce offending, whereas more than 85 per cent supported community alternatives to prison such as centres where women are sent to address the causes of their crimes.

The poll found:

· 73 per cent did not think mothers of young children who commit crimes should be incarcerated.

· 77 per cent thought it would be more effective for female drug addicts who commit non-violent crimes to undergo drug rehabilitation rather than go to prison.

· 67 per cent said prison was not likely to reduce re-offending.

“Locking up women who are vulnerable and desperate does nothing to cut crime,” said Lucie Russell, director of charity SmartJustice. “If we are serious about reducing women’s offending we need to tackle the reasons they are committing crimes in the first place.

She added: “The solutions lie in drug treatment, mental health care, jobs, housing and compulsory work in the community to payback for what they have done rather than putting them behind bars.”

The government has commissioned a review on women in the criminal justice system and the report is expected shortly.

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