Phillip Lee – 2018 Speech at Centre for Social Justice

Below is the text of the speech made by Phillip Lee, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders and Offender Health, at the Centre for Social Justice on 14 March 2018.

Thank you very much for inviting me along to this launch event today. Firstly can I thank the team at Centre for Social Justice for this insightful report. It not only raises a number of pertinent points about the challenges which female offenders, and the services responding to them face, but also outlines practical and creative proposals we can take to tackle them.

Secondly, I would like to emphasise an important theme that runs throughout this report: the need for a multi-agency, gender-responsive approach to female offenders that brings together local and national partners in a coordinated and accountable manner.

Female offenders are some of our most vulnerable members of society and often have complex needs. As articulated in the report, a significant number of these women have histories of mental health issues, substance misuse, trauma and abuse, homelessness, poor education and unemployment.

For many, these issues have developed prior to their involvement with the criminal justice system. Many of these women are also likely to be already known to, or already engaged with, different public services before they even commit a crime.

Despite this, we know that outcomes for a significant number of women remain persistently and unacceptably poor.

We must address these issues at the outset if we want to reduce crime, reduce reoffending, protect victims and the public.

Achieving this requires a joined-up approach from the relevant Government departments, national and local statutory services, and the voluntary sector, to develop a coordinated, multi-agency response. I’m pleased to say we are making some real progress in achieving this. And, this is a principle that also underlines my female offender strategy.

Whole System Approach and women’s centres

As set out in the report, we are investing £1 million pounds seed funding to support local areas to develop new ways of working with female offenders by adopting a multi-agency – often termed Whole System – approach.

The whole system model brings together local agencies, criminal justice, statutory and voluntary. Together they provide the holistic, targeted support a female offender needs, with shared investment and outcomes. The National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies are key partners, ensuring that female offenders receive targeted, wrap-around support both through the gate and in the community.

Women’s centres are often at the heart of many of these Whole-System Approach models. And I have been impressed by the women’s centres that I have visited. Over the past year I met staff and service users at Nelson Trust and Anawim, which are both providing valuable support to vulnerable women.

I recognise the hugely important role that these women’s centres can play in supporting female offenders and those at risk of offending. Our best response to female offending must be one that is locally-led.

Liaison and diversion

Another recent success commended in the report is that of Liaison and Diversion (L&D) services. L&D services place clinical staff at police stations and courts to provide assessments and referrals at an earlier stage. In doing so, we can intervene early to support people with mental health, drug and alcohol issues as soon as they come to the attention of the criminal justice system.

L&D services will be operating across 82% of England by the end of March 2018, and across 90% of the country by the end of March 2019. Full rollout is expected by 2020/21.

And we are going further. NHS England are currently enhancing ‘women’s pathways’ across all L&D services, to address the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system.

A specific women’s lead will be appointed in each service to focus on this. Services will:

offer to see all females who come into custody
provide females with the choice of the gender of their practitioner

offer gender-sensitive tools for screening

and provide effective onward referrals to gender specific and sensitive services.

The needs of particular groups such as women sex workers and foreign national women, will also be considered. These pathways will be co-designed with women with lived experience.

This will mean that more female offenders will be diverted away from the criminal justice system in the first place, away from charge, or to a community sentence. I firmly believe that early intervention is an important part of our response to female offending. Not only does it improve outcomes for these women but also their children, their families and the public as a whole.


As the report outlines, Police & Crime Commissioners (PPC’S) have a real appetite to be more involved in a new approach for female offenders.

This is extremely welcome. PCCs play a valuable role as visible and accountable leaders of the local police and crime systems. And Combined Authorities bring together several services which are crucial to reduce reoffending.

I recognise the potential benefits that a more locally-led system offers. I am keen to work closely with PCCs and Combined Authorities to explore this further.

It is crucial that we work more closely with these local partners to tackle the issues leading women into the criminal justice system.

To deliver this, we have signed devolution agreements with several areas, including Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands and Greater London.

The Ministry of Justice is committed to exploring options to provide greater devolution of criminal justice responsibility and budgets to local commissioners.

Women at court

Another issue raised in the report was that of awareness of pre-sentence report writers of the disposals available in their areas. We have recently undertaken an audit of pre-sentence reports and assessment tools for female offenders at court. This looked at how we could take a more gender responsive and trauma informed approach towards the women we are working with.

Cross-departmental work is now progressing to increase the quality of assessments for female offenders and a work plan has been developed to take this work forward.

This work is also looking to increase the take up of effective community sentences in line with sentencing guidelines. This work is being carried out in partnership with the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s).

Workforce development

However, for these changes to have the necessary impact, it is essential that we have a gender informed workforce.

We continue to roll out Trauma Informed training to criminal justice professionals. Training is now being extended across the National Probation Service and CRCs, as well as to prison staff.

We have also supported the wider Criminal Justice System roll out of the ‘Safeguarding Children When Sentencing Mothers’ training material completed by Dr Shona Minson.

This training raises awareness of the diverse implications of maternal imprisonment for children. I would like to reiterate my thanks to Dr Minson for her invaluable work.

Benefits and employment

Today’s report also rightly highlights the challenges which prisoners face when leaving prison, particularly around access to welfare support.

Prisoners are able to speak to a Department of Work and Pensions Work Coach before release. They can make an appointment at the relevant Job Centre as early as the day of release. Once the former prisoner attends the Job Centre to complete their claim, eligible prisoners can receive funds within hours.

However, we recognise that more can be done. That is why we are working with the Department of Work and Pensions to improve the process with the aim of enabling a claim in advance of release.

And I want to do more to help women into employment on release too. Getting and keeping a job can change people’s lives and work is the best route out of crime. The prison and probation service have an important role to help offenders build the skills and experience they need whilst they’re in prison so they can have the right attitude for work and get a job when they’re released. As the Secretary of State outlined on 6 March, we will shortly be launching our Education and Employment Strategy. This will set out our approach to helping offenders get the skills they need to find a job and avoid the activities that landed them in prison in the first place.


Another factor that plays an important part in rehabilitation is accommodation. There is considerable evidence which tells us there is a link between lack of stable accommodation and reoffending. Suitable accommodation plays an important part in enabling offenders to get a job, into training, or registered with a GP.

HMPPS has undertaken some initiatives to improve access to accommodation, such as expanding the BASS contract to offer accommodation to offenders on licence.

We continue to work with all probation providers to help make sure offenders get the support they need to find accommodation on release.

But accommodation is a serious problem which requires a cross departmental response, as recognised in the report’s recommendations.

We are working with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to improve access to housing for those being released from prison.

As part of this, we are investigating how Housing First and proposals regarding the private rented sector could help to ensure that offenders with complex needs, including female offenders, can secure suitable accommodation

This work will form part of the wider Government commitment to eliminate homelessness.


As you know, my female offender strategy is due shortly. I hope to outline in this what further progress we have made in the areas I have highlighted today, and others, to address the challenges which female offenders face. This is a complex issue and one that I want to get right.

Thank you for having me here today to support the launch of this report.

Phillip Lee – 2016 Speech on the Loyal Address

Below is the text of the speech made by Phillip Lee, the Conservative MP for Bracknell, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2016.

It is a privilege to second the Loyal Address, and I am honoured to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman) this afternoon. This is not the first time I have done so. Among her many achievements, one of her proudest must be that she is captain of the parliamentary ski team, of which I am a junior member. In that role she has responsibility for leading a team of large egos and hidden talent, some with little sense of balance or direction, navigating up peaks and down slippery slopes. I cannot imagine where she gained the experience, but such skills make her an extremely valuable member of this Chamber and of her party.

I was surprised to have been given the privilege of seconding the Loyal Address this afternoon. I am not, for example, the son of a bus driver, although my father did once drive a milk float in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker). Just as an aside, why is it always the case that we have to wait so long for these sons of bus drivers, and then two come along at once?

It might be my education. I am, like the Leader of the Opposition, an ex-grammar school boy and like him, I gather, I rather screwed up my A-levels, so perhaps there is hope for me yet. Or it might be my extensive experience of PR before entering politics. As the House knows, I am a practising doctor. Unfortunately, in a medical context, PR does not stand for public relations, but is shorthand for the type of examination that involves putting on rubber gloves, applying gel and asking a man to cough. May I give my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a little advice? If, in the future, he finds himself speaking at a medical profession dinner, under no circumstances should he tell the audience that in his life before politics he was into PR, and that he found the work very stimulating.

Many of my predecessors in this role have had a reputation for humour, so I think that it was courageous of the PM to ask a doctor to second the Loyal Address. As the House can already tell, medical humour is a famously acquired taste, and it would be all too easy to share some of the stories of which every doctor has an infinite supply—many may not be appropriate for this place and its refined audience. However, I can perhaps report on the lady who complained of, as she put it, a history of “erotic” bowels. I resisted the temptation to ask whether her erotic symptoms were erratic in nature. Or the elderly man who said that his secret for looking so healthy was to do Kama Sutra exercises every morning, only to be corrected by his wife: “Gareth, I think you mean Tai Chi!” If colleagues do not think that I deliver this speech very well today, just be grateful that we are not holding this debate at a weekend, when I understand from some that doctors do not perform as well.

I had hoped that my medical background would be an advantage in politics, but I have been disappointed. My first disappointment came when I stood for election as the Conservative party’s candidate in Blaenau Gwent. I am not sure that the current hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith) is with us today, but I am sure he would agree that sporting a blue rosette outside the Tredegar Kwik Save takes a certain type of character: mostly delusional, and perhaps even masochistic. In fact, the president of my constituency association, Mr Rob Stanton, was elected to Wokingham Borough Council with more votes than I received at that election. However, I was able to comfort myself with the fact that my modest 816 votes nevertheless represented the biggest swing to the Conservative party of any candidate in Wales that night. In retrospect, I should have taken more note of the lady in Abertillery market who, when I asked her why she supported Labour, replied, “Don’t you get complicated with me!”

Delivering this speech is, of course, really an honour for the constituency of Bracknell, which I am privileged to represent. It is a particular honour in this year of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. The constituency has long-standing royal links. It is proud to host the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which celebrated its bicentenary in 2012 and has trained successive generations of British, Commonwealth and international officers serving in Her Majesty’s Army and elsewhere around the world. My constituents also enjoy access to the extensive woodland of Swinley forest, which is wonderfully maintained by the Crown Estate. With its vibrant economy and town centre regeneration, the Bracknell constituency has a very bright future.

This is the 63rd Gracious Speech that Her Majesty has given since her accession to the throne. On this occasion, it is apt to look back to Her Majesty’s first Gracious Speech and at the changes that there have been since. The preservation of peace was the first emphasis in 1952. Our country was still recovering from war. The grandfather of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) was Prime Minister. The nationalisation of iron and steel was the subject of heated debate. Slums had to be cleared and people housed. This led to the creation of new towns, of which Bracknell was one. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis challenged our young health service. Abroad, closer unions were foreseen to cement the ties on which peace depended: with the United States of America, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with the Commonwealth and with a recovering Europe.

The vision of the post-war political generation was a big vision: of a country that would never again suffer the insecurity and hardship experienced by those who had to pick up arms and fight for our existence; of every person being able to get a chance in life—of health, education and employment; and of a society that is fair, just and free, in which freedoms are earned because we value our country, our environment, our world, and in which rights are balanced by responsibilities, for each other and for ourselves; and, most importantly, to prepare for the future. Variations of this vision have guided successive Governments ever since, with varying degrees of success.

The generation Her Majesty addressed in 1952 had fought for that vision, displaying a deep consciousness throughout our nation that individual lives are fleeting: that we must take care of the world we inherit—conserve it—so that we pass something better to our children; that we achieve more by coming together with our neighbours, with our friends and with our former enemies by respecting our riches, and each other; and that humanity is the vital bond without which our society, globally and nationally, our communities and our families will disintegrate.

On a personal level, I am humbled by the experiences of that wartime generation. My grandfather was under fire at the age of 20, in the tail end of a Halifax bomber. I also recall caring for an 89-year-old Polish patient who was short of breath and experiencing angina. He had taken the time to put on a tie and a suit adorned with military ribbons, and he apologised for taking up my time. I asked him about his military experience. He told me that his village in eastern Poland had been overrun by the Soviets in 1939. He was deported to a Siberian work camp and, in his own words, wore the same socks for two years. He was handed over the British in 1942 in Baghdad, and fought with Montgomery’s 8th Army across north Africa and up the spine of Italy via Monte Cassino. When reflecting on his heroic story, I humbly ask whether my generation would display the same values, the same stoicism, the same modesty, the same courage, and the same respect for others, and I recall his loyalty to his adopted country.

The closest I have come to fighting has been as a doctor battling ageing, obesity and the challenges of cultural dislocation. In the course of Her Majesty’s reign, life expectancy has increased by a decade. The percentage of people aged over 85 has grown by a factor of five. The world’s population has virtually trebled, and our own has gone up by a third. The proportion of our population of foreign birth has more than trebled, albeit from a low base. It is clear that we must not only treat the symptoms of the challenges that come with such marked change, but strive to cure their causes. That is why this Government’s commitment to helping to improve the life chances of those who have the misfortune to be born or raised in circumstances over which they have no control is admirable and right.

The generation Her Majesty addresses today must rediscover the values of the past to face an ever-accelerating pace of change. It is a world that is more connected and more conscious of its differences, but also more conscious of what we have in common than ever before. This time, we have the opportunity to rediscover those values peacefully, and the important legislation outlined in this Gracious Speech will help us to do so. The challenge of overcoming extremism without compromising our humanity is one that deserves the support of the whole House. My right hon. and good Friend the Home Secretary knows that dealing with our society’s failure to integrate some communities will be integral.

The space industry received the attention it deserves as one of Britain’s most successful industries with a power to inspire that is unmatched. I am sure that all members of the previous Parliament recall that I mentioned the UK space industry in my maiden speech in 2010. As British astronaut Tim Peake was a graduate of Sandhurst, I am shamelessly going to claim him as having been educated in my constituency. As such, I am concerned for his welfare. Tim is due back from the international space station just before the EU referendum vote, but if he is slightly delayed, and the country votes to leave in June, he need not worry about getting home, since the European Space Agency sits outside the European Union. Seriously, though, the Government’s support of the space industry will help to secure Britain as a globally recognised centre for high technology, whether we are inside or outside the European Union.

Finally, some hon. Members will know that I have kept my own counsel on June’s big European event, but the time is fast approaching when I feel I should make my position clear, if only to deal with the alarming possibility that as time moves on, I and other hon. Members who have taken a similar approach will have to deal with the advances of two charming men, one with blond hair and one with spectacles, approaching us in the Members’ Lobby to ask when we are coming out. I can see no good reason why we should exit—at least not before the semi-finals, and preferably not after the pain of extra time and a penalty shoot-out.

Keeping up with change is a tough enough job for any Government. Conservative Governments do not just want to keep up; they want to do better. That is why I am not only privileged to represent the good people of the Bracknell constituency, but proud to second this motion on the Gracious Speech.