Improving magistrates’ awareness of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system: a pilot
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Improving magistrates’ awareness of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system: a pilot

Matthew Callender Senior researcher, Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice, University of Northampton, Northampton, England
Mike Scanlan Mental health consultant, Mind Time Therapies, Northampton, England
Suzy Van Rooyen Chief executive officer, The Good Loaf, Northampton, England
Mignon French Magistrate, Magistrates Association Vulnerabilities in Court Group, Northampton, England

Women make up a small proportion of offenders dealt with in the UK criminal justice system (CJS) as most criminal offences are committed by men. The issues faced by women in the CJS are significantly different to those faced by men and women have more distinct vulnerabilities.

Aim To deliver training sessions to magistrates to increase their awareness of issues facing women in the CJS and provide alternatives to custodial sentences.

Method A magistrate-led vulnerable-person focus group delivered seven ‘focus on women’ awareness sessions to 100 staff at four courts in Northamptonshire.

Findings The participants reported improved confidence when sentencing women offenders. They were also more likely to seek information about the women’s health and social care circumstances before sentencing and to consider alternatives to custodial sentences.

Conclusion After the training, magistrates were more aware of the importance of biopsychosocial influences on the lives of female offenders. The training could be easily replicated in other areas to improve sentencing for women in England.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2019.e1363

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Callender M, Scanlan M, Van Rooyen S et al (2019) Improving magistrates’ awareness of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system: a pilot. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2019.e1363

Published online: 02 May 2019

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now