A prison term can see women have their children taken away or lose their homes and sometimes make it more, not less likely they will re-offend.
The report by the London Assembly police and crime committee says that having specialist women’s centres to support offenders in the community can help to address the causes of offending and have a big impact on re-offending.
Women are much more likely than men to be serving short sentences.
In the year to September 2017, 62% of sentenced women entering prison were given six months or less compared to 45% of men.
The offences women are most commonly convicted of include theft, common assault and TV licence evasion.
Some 1,204 women were sent to prison in London in 2017, mainly for theft.
Greater London Assembly member Sian Berry helped compile the report.
“The drivers for women committing crime seem to be mainly money struggles,” she said.
“A lot of women are prosecuted for TV license evasion, but also theft, shoplifting, mostly non-violent, non-aggregated offences.
“We didn’t meet a single one who hadn’t had prior domestic abuse, prior family abuse of some kind.
“Many of the women who commit crimes are victims as well and these are the women who end up in prison for violent offences when actually we should be treating them for mental health problems.”
After years of abuse at the hands of the father of her four children, Kelly’s life spiralled out of her control.
She has been jailed several times since 2013, all short sentences, for crimes such as shoplifting and drug possession. Her children were taken from her and live with her sister.
Kelly told Sky News: “Taking the drugs wasn’t the issue for me, it was dealing with the issues that made me take the drugs, why am I taking these? What’s going on?
“And for me it was the mental health side of the abuse I’d been through. So dealing with the trauma, living with the trauma, having flashbacks, not being able to understand myself, not knowing why.
“Then there is not being services within the prison to help me with that, or if there was you’re on great long waiting lists and you’d have to have a life sentence to be seen by somebody.”
Kelly is more fortunate than some.
Since leaving prison in February, following her latest conviction, she has been given a place at exactly the sort of specialist centre the London Assembly report says there should be many more of.
“It gives me structure – somewhere safe to come,” she said.
“Services like this need to be more available to women all over London.
“I’ve never been offered anything like this before and I’ve tried lots of things.”
London has only two ‘one-stop-shop’ women’s centres that provide access to a wide range of services specifically for offenders and women at risk of offending.
The London Assembly report says there should be at least one more in the capital, as well as additional services across the country.