Managing inclusion or preparing for exclusion? A critical examination of gender-responsive management of female Central and Eastern European prisoners in England and Wales

Published date01 October 2023
AuthorMagdalena Tomaszewska,Karen Bullock,Jon Garland
Date01 October 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Managing inclusion or
preparing for exclusion?
A critical examination
of gender-responsive
management of female
Central and Eastern
European prisoners in
England and Wales
Magdalena Tomaszewska ,
Karen Bullock and Jon Garland
Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, UK
This article examines practitioner understandings and implementation of gender-
responsive support within female prisons in England and Wales in the context of a
growing emphasis on effective deportation of foreign national prisoners. Drawing
on a case study of female prisoners from Central and Eastern states of the
European Union (EU), we argue that the aims of gender-responsivity, designed to
address womens gendered vulnerabilities to support their re-entry in the UK, are
pragmatically re-shaped to accommodate the uncertainty surrounding their immigra-
tion status. We show how in practice, gender-responsive support functions at best to
managegendered needs of women who are not of interestto immigration author-
ities, and at worst to legitimate exclusion by side-lining vulnerabilities of women
deemed as having no right to remainin the UK. This occurs in the context of limited
access to legal redress to challenge deportation decisions, unevenly spread resources
in the female prison estate, and practitionersoccupational cultures which emphasise
paternalistic valuations of female foreign national prisonersfemininity. We locate the
f‌indings in criminological debates about gendering of bordersand conclude with a
Corresponding author:
Magdalena Tomaszewska, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK, GU2 7XH, UK.
Punishment & Society
2023, Vol. 25(4) 827847
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/14624745221108444
ref‌lection on the implications for advocacy at the time of increasingly restrictive
immigration controls following the UKs exit from the EU.
gender-responsivity, female foreign national prisoners, prisons, border control
Drawing on a case study of incarcerated Central and Eastern European (CEEU) women
this article examines the applications of gender-responsive support in female prisons in
England and Wales in the context of the increased deportation of EU prisoners.
Gender-responsivity denotes a set of penal strategies and provisions that aim to create
an environment that ref‌lects an understanding of the realities of womens lives and
addresses the issues of the women(Bloom et al., 2003: v). Over the past 10 years,
this approach has been encapsulated in penal policy via Womens Policy Framework
(Ministry of Justice, 2018)
and related Guidance on Working with Women in
Custody and the Community (Her Majestys Prison and Probation Service Womens
Team, 2018). Gender-responsivity recognises female foreign national prisoners (FFNP)
as a distinct group with specif‌ic experiences and characteristics as part of a broader
policy drive to recognise and respond to diversity and differencein prisons in
England and Wales, in order to deliver more effective rehabilitation(Her Majestys
Prison and Probation Service, 2018, p. 12). This has occurred at the time of a signif‌icant
expansion of a system of border control in the prison estate in England and Wales
whereby, since the passing of the UK Borders Act 2007, any foreign criminalwith a
custodial sentence of more than two years is subject to automatic deportation, while
all non-citizen prisoners are considered for deportation (Bhui, 2007; Bosworth, 2011).
This has been accompanied by a policy agreement between the Prison Service and the
Home Off‌ice (National Offender Management Service, 2015) to concentrate foreign
nationals in prisons known as foreign national hubs
in order to expedite removals
(Kaufman and Bosworth, 2013; Kaufman, 2015).
This article provides an analysis of the application of gender-responsivity to female
prisoners of Central and Eastern European origin a subgroup of FFNPs which increased
signif‌icantly over the past decade (Ministry of Justice, 2020). In 2020, over 50% of
FFNPs in England and Wales were EU nationals, 60% of whom came from A8 and
A2 EU accession countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Ministry of Justice, 2020).
This demographic prof‌ile has coincided with an expansion of border control mechanisms
in the female prison estate (such as the introduction of a bespoke foreign national only
wing) (Robinson, 2013) and a marked emphasis on more effective deportation of EU
national prisoners in the run up to, and since, the UKs exit from the European Union
(Brexit) (Home Affairs Committee, 2016; Migration Observatory, 2020). Within this
context, female CEEU prisoners have also become a more prominent subject of gender-
responsive support provided by prison-based third sector agencies, representing a f‌ifth of
828 Punishment & Society 25(4)

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