Bishop Rachel speaks out on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Published: Tuesday January 11, 2022

Bishop Rachel in the House of LordsSpeaking as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Bishop Rachel spoke in favour of a Women’s Justice Board, as well as on violence reduction orders. The videos and text are now available below.

PCSC Bill: speaking on a Women’s Justice Board

“My Lords, I add my wholehearted support to this amendment. I am very grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Marks and Lord Ramsbotham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, for their continued commitment to women in the criminal justice system. As bishop to prisons and president of the Nelson Trust, I am acutely aware, as I have said so often, of the need for a gendered approach to justice. The noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, has just put that very powerfully.

“While men and women need to be treated with equal justice, equality is not about sameness. Women are caught up in a criminal justice system that has been designed around men, and there needs to be a gendered lens. As we have heard already, many, many women are more likely than men to be primary carers or victims of abuse or exploitation. When they are given a prison sentence, they are more likely to be given a very short one, often far from home. I do not want to repeat things that have been said so many times in Committee and on Report but, having lost the amendment on primary carers earlier on during Report, I am very grateful to noble Lords for bringing forward these amendments, which will go a long way towards ensuring that we get the same outcomes. I am therefore wholeheartedly glad to support these amendments.”

Watch below:


Speaking on serious violence reduction orders amendments to the #PCSCBill:

“My Lords, I rise to support in particular Amendments 90H, 90J, 90K and 90L. As has been said, they are critical to ensuring that more vulnerable women are not drawn into the criminal justice system through the de facto joint enterprise element of SVROs. Probably like other noble Lords, I was shocked to read the briefing from Agenda, which states that analysis of “109 joint enterprise cases involving women and girls” shows that “there was not a single case in which women and girls had handled a weapon; in 90% of cases they engaged in no violence at all; and in half of the cases they were not even present at the scene of the crime.”

“As we have heard, SVROs will mean that women can be given an order based on a single judgment that, on the balance of probability, they “ought to have known” that someone in their company was in possession of a knife. That key phrase, “ought to have known”, is really troubling. Will the Minister consider how this fits in with wider policy, including the female offenders strategy, to limit the number of women serving short sentences and prevent reoffending?

“We have a duty to limit unintended consequences. These amendments would do just that.”

Watch below:


Part of the Authors, Booksellers and Libraries: Economic Recovery discussions in the House of Lords. Bishop Rachel also spoke as Pro-Chancellor of Gloucester University:

“My Lords, as pro-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire I am very aware that during the time of pandemic there have been issues with ebooks relating to university libraries. How will the Government address the current issues of excessive pricing, restrictive licensing and lack of availability of academic ebooks?”


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