An evaluation of one-stop-shops for women offenders

This project was an evaluation of six Women’s Community Services (WCSs) for low risk women offenders and women at risk of offending. Forty five WCSs were set up between 2009-2013 as part of a joint funding initiative between the Corston Independent Funders Coalition (CIFC) and the Ministry of Justice. They are intended to be a one-stop-shop involving holistic community-based interventions to tackle social, health and other problems the women face, rather than prison.

Researchers interviewed stakeholders and clients about their views and experiences of the service and recorded the impact on different aspects of women's lives. They also reviewed local sentencing patterns to assess any changes in use of custody for women.


The research team found that on the whole, WCSs have not been integrated into mainstream commissioning and funding for them is now in question. While the Ministry of Justice now requires evidence of outcome, the Localism agenda has meant that the services were set up without a common monitoring tool or specialist data gathering support.  Lack of consistent data makes it difficult to make a robust business case for holistic, women-specific services for women serving community sentences.


The evaluation recommends central investment in monitoring systems in any future provision for women offenders in order for outcomes and ‘distance travelled’ to be consistently tracked.


A report of the evaluation, The Development and Impact of Community Services for Women Offenders is available to download from the Institute for Criminal Policy Research.  

Project details



Mike Hough, Institute for Criminal Policy Research

Grant amount and duration:


February 2011-July 2012