Community sentencing is an effective alternative to prison for women offenders which delivers long-term savings in public spending and prevents re-offending, using Social Return on Investment (SROI).

NEF’s research found that for every pound invested in support-focused alternatives to prison, £14 worth of social value is generated to women and their children, victims and society generally over ten years.

Not since the mid – 19th century has our prison system held as many women as it does today. Many are repeat petty offenders, trapped in a cycle of deprivation, disadvantage, drug abuse and crime that the prison system is conspicuously failing to break.

This report highlights how a criminal justice system focused on short – term cost control and narrow re – offending targets is letting women offenders down and costing more in the longer term.

Using Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis, NEF has examined the costs and long – term benefits associated with the work of two centres providing an alternative to prison in Glasgow and Worcester. It concludes that support – focused community penalties involving high – quality facilities such as these are a more cost – effective option than imprisonment for non – violent women offenders.

Unlocking Value urges policy makers to ensure that sentencing does more to help overcome the problems of women offenders and meet their needs. It also calls for a more broad – based, sophisticated and balanced approach to measuring the impact of imprisonment and other sentencing options so that public money can be invested in a better – informed and more effective way of addressing the root causes of crime.