Women's rehabilitation schemes for low-level offenders have been praised after it was revealed Surrey has the fewest women in jail per capita of any county in the UK.

Announcing the news on Wednesday (February 17), Surrey Police revealed that in 2019 Surrey had just nine per 100,000 women in jail, making it the lowest figure for any county in the entire UK.

Police said that two schemes brought in to reduce the amount of contact low-level offenders had with the criminal justice system were largely to be thanked for the county's good showing.

"The Women’s Justice Intervention (WJI) scheme, which was introduced in 2016, recognises that traditional justice isn't always the best way of preventing re-offending, and that working closely with offenders outside of the court system can be much more effective, as well as providing greater satisfaction for victims," a spokesperson for Surrey Police described.

"While that scheme targeted women offenders, a new broader scheme for all eligible adults based on Durham Constabulary's Checkpoint programme, was launched in Surrey in 2019.

"Surrey Checkpoint is a deferred prosecution scheme for lower level offences, which aims to reduce reoffending with targeted interventions while providing greater satisfaction for victims," they added, describing the second additional scheme that has seen impressive results for lowering the number of women in prison.

"Working with the Women’s Centre in Woking and the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Force has been able we have been able to work with many women who might have been sent to prison, turning their lives around and giving them longer term interventions.

"At the point of charge, caution or summons, the male or female offender will be asked if they want to take part in the scheme as an alternative."

Durham Constabulary's Checkpoint Scheme now being used in Surrey has been widely lauded after it succeeded in reducing reoffending rates 15 per cent in the county.

It works by asking low-level offenders such as people set to be charged with drug possession or criminal damage whether they would prefer to join the police scheme.

If they agree, a contract lasting several months is drawn up between them and the officers involved. It may include community work, counselling, help with mental health, drink or anger management, or a face to face apology.

To further underline the success of the scheme, Surrey Police included text from an email sent to them by one of it's beneficiaries:

"It's RL- you might remember me from about a year ago when you helped to give me a second chance in life to start over with a clean slate.

"But the part I guess I wanted to tell you most about is the fact that this last year, emotionally, I've felt the happiest I've ever felt in my life.

"I'm so happy with life and I just can't believe how far I've come.

"Really, all of this wouldn't have been possible without your help though and it's something I am forever grateful for.

"The fact that you believed in me enough to bat for my corner and give me that second chance means the world...I still think how different things would have been if I had a record or something hanging over my head."

Click here for more information on Checkpoint.