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Cash boost to help vulnerable women in Devon and Cornwall

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Published by Sarah Yeoman at 2:20pm 15th November 2018.

More than £200,000 of funding is going towards a scheme to help vulnerable women in Devon and Cornwall.

The government cash boost comes after a successful bid by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The region's nearest women's prison is Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire - which means women in the region who receive custodial sentences face being incarcerated up to 200 miles away from their loved ones.

Officials say that also means they are far away from the support networks they need to get their lives back on track.

Investigative work by the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall found that there were not sufficient gender specific services available in parts of the region.

A total of 85% of female offenders in Devon and Cornwall were found to have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence. Many had drug or alcohol addictions.

Short sentences for women mean they are often being separated from their children, leading to more disruption for troubled families.

"Much of the work of my office is not only focussed on policing but on the causes of crime.

"In Devon and Cornwall we have a problem in that the nearest women's prison is so far away from much of the region.

"Prison has to be a last resort option for our women offenders because rehabilitation and reducing offending only happens when offenders are well connected with their family and community. Children suffer the most and we have been seeking better ways to help alleviate this.

"I'm grateful that the Government recognises the importance of our isolated women within the South West by funding these schemes and I'd like to thank all of those who have worked on this successful bid."

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez

The Ministry of Justice funding will pay for a 17-month pilot project to an alliance which was formed by the OPCC.

It includes Resilient Women, CoLab (Exeter), Sunflower Women's Centre (Plymouth) and Women's Centre Cornwall.

The £234,238 cash will pay for Outreach Support Workers who can provide support to women who are unable to access local services to help them to lead a crime-free life.

The support workers will follow the women through the system to provide a continuity of care that the PCC says was previously lacking.

The funding was part of £3.3m awarded to 12 organisations in the first phase of community services investment. 

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