Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Women and the Conservatives- a conference report

WRC's Policy Officer Rebecca Veazey reports from the Conservative Party Conference!

After 13 years in opposition the Conservative Party celebrated their first recent annual conference with a Conservative prime minister.

Thousands of Conservative supporters gathered in Birmingham 'in the national interest' to discuss the key policies the Conservative Party plans to take forward over the upcoming year.

As part of the fringe events associated with the conference the Conservative Women's Organisation hosted an exciting event regarding 'Women and the Criminal Justice System'.

The event panel included Mary Mcleod MP, the Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Police Reform and Justice, Carlene Firmin, the lead on ROTA's Female Voice in Violence project and Sarah Payne the CEO of YWCA.

Amongst panel members there was unanimous agreement on the importance of women-only services and a holistic approach to female offending. All speakers also discussed the importance of addressing the causes and consequences of female offending and its importance in reducing reoffending rates.

The discussion raised by the panel highlighted the specific needs and experiences of women and girls and their problems in navigating a prison system designed for men. Mary Mcleod, MP, in particular drew attention to the problems of women with mental health issues and the damaging impact prison has on families.

Audience members questioned Ms Mcleod's ability to make a women-centred approach to offending issues a ministerial priority and expressed concerns that this approach was at risk during a period of public spending cuts.

Ms Mcleod responded that she did not know what the outcome would be of the comprehensive spending review but pledged to feedback their comments to the heart of government. In addition, she commented that the effective policy solutions "tend to come from people on the ground who do day to day work rather than politicians" and that said that she was committed to applying and implementing best practice across the country.

"The best solutions tend to come from people on the ground who do day to day work rather than politicians," she said.

No comments: