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Fiona Simmons February 28, 2023 4 min read
Report Says Women Are Strongly Affected by Gambling-Related Crime
A new study by Brule University London’s Dr Julie Trebilcock has explored how women affected by crime related to gambling have been left without support
The report looked into how women who had committed crimes because of gambling were unaware of support options or found the criminal justice system to be inadequately equipped to help them recover. The report published by the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms specifically detailed the lack of awareness female convicts or defendants experienced while facing serious charges or serving prison time.
Detailed Look into Lived Gambling Experiences of Women Convicts
Dr Trebilcock’s report focused on interviewing women who have committed gambling-related crimes themselves or who have been affected negatively by the gambling habits of others. The report itself is part of a broader effort to bring clarity into the gambling habits of the nation and how women are impacted in particular and are part of the Howard League for Penal Reform. Efforts to assist women to overcome gambling-related harms have been ongoing with GamCare recently announcing the “Way Forward” online seminars.
The League is chaired by Lord Peter Goldsmith KC and its main function is to try and establish a clear link between gambling-related harms and crime stemming from those. Gambling-related harm pushes individuals into crime and has a broader negative impact on communities and society as a whole.
Therefore, The League is attempting to introduce steps that can help reduce such crime and make everyone feel safer and get the help they need when they need it. Lord Goldsmith KC said that the issue has long been ignored and that there was no proper look into how gambling-related harm affected women and pushed them into crime.
This is what the Commission is now trying to fix and put right. He similarly accused the criminal justice system of a lack of awareness about how gambling-related harm leads to more serious crime. “This important report was produced by a team that included women with personal experience of gambling and crime,” Lord Goldsmith KC said.
Women who shared such lived experiences were actively involved in the report, helping conduct part of the research, adjust its questions, and offer insight that may otherwise have been left out. The study was based on 33 interviews with 27 participants and included a number of women who have suffered from gambling-related harm in a different capacity.
Nine women had lived to experience gambling-related harm and crime. Another eight women were affected by others – i.e. the gambling of a close family member or a friend. The other 10 of the participants were in fact people involved with the industry and criminal justice system in various capacities.
Women Unaware of Any Help in the Criminal Justice System
The survey reached out to probation and prison staff, Members of Parliament, and various support organizations. Women who had committed crimes said that they had done so to support their gambling habits further. The women who participated in the study also said that they weren’t completely aware of gambling and crime in the judicial system.
In one instance, a woman was sentenced and sent to prison but the prison would organize and run bingo games on Saturday afternoons. Dr Trebilcock explained that these incidents and her general survey were indicative of the fact that women who end up in the criminal justice system are often not offered sufficient insight to get better or understand their habits.
Because of how dangerous gambling-related harm can be on a personal level, the criminal justice system needs to change in order to support the prison population in their recovery. Fighting for a change in the criminal justice system is not entirely new. In August, GamCare announced that it would seek to address gambling harms and problem gambling in the system and seek to bring more awareness to the issue.