Gypsy/Traveller women had some of the poorest outcomes of any ethnic group in the 2011 census.
According to The Traveller Movement charity these poor outcomes, across health, employment and education are no different, and often accentuated for migrant Roma women. The discrimination and marginalisation Roma, Gypsy and Traveller women face in broader society only become accentuated when they enter the Criminal Justice System.
Gypsy/Traveller women are overrepresented in the Criminal Justice system, forming approximately 6% of the prison population, and 0.1% of the general population. The population of Roma women is again on top of this number.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people are over-policed, contributing to this overrepresentation.Yet, their distinct needs are poorly understood and overlooked. Many experience the severe pain of family separation, and they are often homeless on release, due to poor exit planning and a lack of appropriate housing assessment on release. Over 50% of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse.
This will be no different for Gypsy Roma and Traveller women, who will have differing needs when it comes to accessing support for domestic abuse. To support survivors in prison, there needs to be targeted support, specialist intervention and emphasis on placed release planning to aid rehabilitation.
Gypsy Roma and Traveller Women’s poor experiences of custody are in keeping with system wide critiques of a Criminal Justice System that disproportionately impacts minority women through over-policing and disproportionate rates of custodial sentencing.
As opposed to this system, which is largely made up of short-term custodial sentences for non-violent crime, The Traveller Movement promotes, the use of out of court disposals, community sentences, better sentence planning and trauma informed rehabilitation. If these reforms take an intersectional approach and actively include Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Women, a system wide move away from custody will benefit the GRT women in prison.
Read the full report Gypsy, Roma & Traveller women in prison.