Positive approach supporting women offenders

Archived news: published on Thursday 28 Apr 2016 by Fife Council

Chair of the council's Safer Communities Committee Margaret Kennedy

Chair of the council's Safer Communities Committee Margaret Kennedy

A TEAM set up to support women in Fife who offend is having a positive impact.

Since the dedicated team was set up in 2012 the total number of women involved in crime in the Kingdom has reduced by 45%. And the number of women who go on to re-offend has also dropped considerably.

Councillors discussed the success of the Women Who Offend Team’s work at a meeting of Fife Council’s Safer Communities Committee today (Thursday). The statistics from a recent report on People with Convictions in Fife have been described by Committee Chair Margaret Kennedy as very encouraging.

She commented: “The team is doing fantastic work with women across Fife, and giving them support to improve their self-esteem, health and well-being. Breaking down barriers and helping reduce feelings of isolation is crucial to helping women offenders see that crime is not the only way forward, and that there are other positive paths to choose.”

Fife has developed a “one stop shop” support network across the Kingdom with services available in Levenmouth, Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Dunfermline and Cupar. Following consultation with women involved, the project has been called WINGS (Women, Inspired, Nurturing, Goals, Safe). Initiatives include a successful media project in Dunfermline that has helped improve skills, confidence and self-awareness and the women also produce a regular WINGS newsletter to share experiences and information on activities going on in different groups.

Anon from Kirkcaldy describes how the WINGS project has helped her move forward: “I look forward to coming to WINGS. I travel to get here every week and would even borrow money to get here because I enjoy it so much!

“I have had troubles in my life and feel like the system has let me down. Some of the people in the group have had similar experiences to me and meeting these people has been like finding an extended family who I would never had if it wasn’t for WINGS.

“I feel I finally have the support I need. The workers are really good. Mine is like my “guardian angel” and they feel more like pals than social workers.”

The wider criminal justice system is also recognising the positive work of WINGS. Engagement with the project is now a condition of Structured Deferred Sentencing, a further sentencing option for the courts, introduced late last year. And Supervised Bail Orders also use the project to make sure support and monitoring is in place for women who are supervised rather than remanded in custody.

Cllr Kennedy added: “The women making use of projects like WINGS typically have very high levels of need and intensive support is crucial to a positive outcome for them.

“Our aim now has to be to make sure these projects are sustainable in the long term and continue to make a difference to these women’s lives.”

Margaret Kennedy, Councillor 
Tel: 03451 55 55 55 + Ext 44 23 20 Contact Margaret Kennedy online
By Post: Fife council, Fife House North Street, Glenrothes,KY7 5LT

Bill Kinnear, Service Manager 
Tel: 03451 55 55 55 + Ext 45 05 30 Fax: 01592 583651 Contact Bill Kinnear online
By Post: Town House 2 Wemyssfield Kirkcaldy Fife KY1 1XW
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