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ADOPTED PROJECT: DIGNIFIE

DIGNIFIE: DynamIc Gender-seNsitive evaluatIon oF a prIson alternative - (intervention is known as Hope Street)

Chief Investigator: Dr Emma Plugge – University of Southampton

Project Team Members: Ms Donna Gipson – Empowering People: Inspiring Change, Ms Paula Harriott – Prison Reform Trust, Dr Kathy Kendall – University of Southampton, Professor Julie Parkes – University of Southampton, Dr Sara Morgan – University of Southampton Professor James Raftery – University of Southampton, Dr Lucy Wainwright Revolving Doors, Dr Naomi Gadian – University of Southampton, Dr James Hall – University of Southampton

Organisations Involved
One Small Thing, Prison Reform Trust, Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services, Vivid Housing, Crown and Magistrates Courts, Southampton City Council, Adult Services, Southampton, Children Services, Southampton, Housing and Community Inclusion, Change Grow Live (CGL) Southampton, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council, Society of St James

Background:

This evaluation seeks to determine whether women’s health and wellbeing, social and criminal justice outcomes are improved when they are placed in a community based residential facility (Hope Street) rather than being imprisoned. The Ministry of Justice’s 2018 Female Offender Strategy sets out plans to improve outcomes for women in the community and custody. It aspires to ensure that fewer women are imprisoned and recommends the move to community management of women in contact with the criminal justice system (CJS), including residential women’s centres with places for women to bring their children. It is in this context that Hope Street, the community alternative to imprisonment, has been developed in Southampton.

Women in contact with the CJS are some of the most disadvantaged people in society. One third of them will have been in care as children, two thirds live with ongoing domestic abuse and most will have experienced poverty. They have lower basic skills attainment than the general population, are more likely to be unemployed and to be in insecure housing. Their health is considerably poorer than that of women in the community; for example, the standardised mortality ratio for suicide is 20 times higher in imprisoned women than in the general population.

This mixed methods study comprises qualitative research, a prospective cohort study and health economic evaluation. It started in 2021 and will be completed in 2027.