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‘It was a safe place for me to be’: Accounts of attending women’s community services and moving beyond the offender identity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Polly Radcliffe, Gillian Hunter

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-994
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

King's Authors


Based on qualitative analysis of interviews with women attending Women’s Community Services (WCSs) in England and Wales, the paper highlights narrative strategies through which women refute the offender identity. Accounts suggest that relationships with key workers and peers and the education and employment opportunities available at the WCSs are crucial in supporting desistance from offending. In addition, the accounts demonstrate an awareness of the social structural disadvantage in which offending is embedded on the part of staff and women attending the services. The implication of the critique of Gender Responsive Programming for our findings is discussed. In the face of a renewed emphasis by the Ministry of Justice on the robustness of community sentences and uncertainty of funding for WCSs in the newly marketized probation provision, the paper argues that WCSs have provided decriminalizing and desistance opportunities for women.

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