Category Archives: News

10 Little Known Criminal Justice Facts

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Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information requests are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Below are some of the nuggets of information I’ve unearthed from the responses to FOIs that the Ministry of Justice published this March.

  1. Over a quarter (25.6%) of the 85,763 people given community sentences in 2016 had 11 or more previous convictions and/or cautions. 1,357 (1.6%) had 50 or more previous and 87 (0.1%) had 100 or more.
  2. 102,931 people received a police caution in 2016 – a drop of 22,681 or (18%) on the year before.
  3. 9,221 people with no previous convictions were sentenced to immediate custody in 2016.
  4. 210,055 people were given a caution for possession of cocaine over the last 10 years.
    The parallel figure for cannabis was 416,363 and for heroin 76,969.
  5. Three hundred and forty five 10 or 11 year old were given cautions or convicted of a criminal offence in 2016.
  6. In the 12 year period 2005-2016, 790 people were given a life sentence with a tariff of between 20-24 years.
    In the same time period, 469 were given a tariff of 25-29 years, 301 were told to serve a minimum of 30-34 years, 70 got tariffs of 35-40 years and 34 of 41 years or more.
  7. Between 2007 and 2016 a total of 27 people have been convicted of the offence of having sexual intercourse with an animal.
  8. 59 people were convicted of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship in 2016 (an offence introduced by the Serious Crime Act 2015).
    57 of these were men.
  9. The proportion of defendants sentenced to immediate custody in Magistrates’ Courts ranged from 0% (in 4 courts) to 14% in South Worcestershire and 33% in Harrogate and Skipton (where only 6 defendants were sentenced all year.)
    The average was 3.8%.
  10. In 2016, 54 people were convicted of child sexual exploitation and 225 of sexual grooming.

Article written by Russell Webster

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Is it finally time for justice devolution?

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Local systems can prioritise prevention

Justice devolution (sometimes known as justice reinvestment) has been an objective of many commentators, academics and Think Tanks for some years (check out these posts, for example).

The rationale is clear: many of the levers for reducing crime lie outside the CJS at a local level – with health, education, employment and housing and require engagement and better integration locally. A more localised system, where the criminal justice services are shaped around the local area’s needs rather than looking ‘upwards’ to Whitehall, is more likely to create a system which is
preventative, joined up, evidence-based and transparent.

If local areas are given justice budgets to invest as they see fit and are allowed to reinvest the savings from a more co-ordinated approach, then many see the potential of justice devolution.

The argument has gathered pace since the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners who are ideally placed to lead and design joined up local systems.

The momentum for justice devolution picked up pace over the last fortnight with the publication of two documents.

On 23 March 2018 Crest Advisory published their driving criminal justice devolution report which details work from four PCC areas: Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Northumbria and North Yorkshire.

Three days later, the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the MoJ and London Councils jointly published a memorandum of understanding (MoU) entitled Working towards Justice Devolution to London.

Crest Advisory Report

Crest advances two core arguments for devolution.

Firstly, PCCs are accountable for police performance, but the crime in their communities – not to mention the social harms – cannot be solved by the police alone. To make real progress, PCCs have to make good on the ‘and Crime’ part of their job description, which means greater leverage over youth justice, prosecution, courts, probation and prisons.
Secondly, the big fiscal reality for the next decade and beyond makes devolution the best answer to some of these intractable problems of rising complex crime demands and shrinking budgets. We cannot continue to rely on national reform programmes and extra spending to improve performance, and budget reductions since 2010 have brought us to the limit of what government
departments can deliver in the way of easy savings. If we want to make justice swifter, reduce the numbers of female offenders in prison, and finally tackle our high rates of reoffending, we need a radical shift in power to the local level. This is where the solutions and the innovation will be found to improve services, not in Whitehall.

The report consists of various examples of work in the four PCC areas including:

  • Commissioning through-the-gate services.
  • Improving the performance of and renegotiating the contracts for the local Community Rehabilitation Company.
  • Developing diversion/triage schemes for low level women offenders.
  • Developing alternatives to short custodial sentences.
  • Improving health interventions for offenders.
  • Developing commissioning responsiblity for electronic tagging.

Crest concludes that although PCCs still lack formal powers over much of the criminal justice system,
as visible democratically elected figures, they have considerable ‘soft’ power, which they are increasingly able to wield.

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These two reports combined with the devolution of criminal justice powers to the combined Manchester authorities in March 2016 and work by other Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales seem to indicate that the momentum towards justice devolution is starting to pick up speed.

However, to have real impact, we will need willingness by a Justice Secretary to let go of central powers. For this to happen, we probably need to keep the same person in post for a period of three years at least.

David Gauke seems to have his hands full at the moment with the critically poor performance of both prisons and probation and a radical overhaul of parole. It will be interesting to see whether he has the inclination, time and political will to set devolution as a realistic policy direction.

London MoU

The Memorandum of Understanding is a first step in the devolution of justice services to the Capital. It creates a transparent framework for:

  • Achieving co-design, co-investment and co-commissioning between MoJ, London Councils and MOPAC with respect to the management of offenders.
  • Developing a plan to test devolution of agreed and specified justice responsibilities where the case is compelling.

It sets out the initial process for collaborative working which can happen immediately and identifies the areas for further development leading to implementation from March 2019. The MoU sets out seven initial shared priorities:

  • Joining up services that support victims and witnesses of crime to create a newly integrated service, designed around the needs of victims and witnesses, rather than the requirement of different agencies;
  • Pooling of criminal justice resources, enabling a shift in investment upstream from enforcement to prevention and early intervention;
  • Developing robust community sentence options, which have the confidence of judges and the public and thus contribute to reducing incarceration for lower risk offenders;
  • Moving justice and resettlement closer to home where possible;
  • Ensuring the CJS connects people to employment, skills and learning and improving the continuity of care from custody into the community;
  • Providing holistic services to young people at risk of offending, young offenders, and young adults in transition from the youth justice system to the adult service, that address the root causes of offending behaviour, whilst ensuring justice continues to be served;
  • Addressing the disproportionate representation of certain groups (such as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and care leavers) within the criminal justice system.

Article written by Russell Webster

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Reducing the use of short prison sentences

Reducing the use of short prison sentences

We need a smarter approach
Today’s post reproduces a new campaign from the Revolving Doors Agency to reduce the use of short prison sentences. It is based both on public opinion and the evidence base.

What’s the problem?
Currently 30,000 people each year go to prison on sentences of less than six months. This represents half of all people sent to prison to serve a sentence. The majority of people serving sentences of less than six months are in prison for non-violent offences. Some common offences that receive a short time in custody are theft and drug offences, linked to underlying problems such as poverty, addiction, homelessness and poor mental health. Indeed, the most common offence for which people are sentenced to prison is theft.

The public strongly oppose the use of prison for petty crime. A new poll commissioned by Revolving Doors found that:

  • 80% of the public think that theft of daily essentials such as food, sanitary products and nappies does not warrant a prison sentence. This was true for voters across all the major parties.
  • 74% of the public think people with drug or alcohol addictions belong in treatment programmes instead of prison.
  • A majority of voters said they were likely to vote for an MP candidate that supported reducing prison populations and using the savings to invest in drug treatment and mental health programmes (only 16% said they were unlikely to do so). Each of the major parties had more people likely to support this policy than unlikely to do so.

These poll results are important findings given that at least a quarter of people entering prison on short sentences are there for theft. It is also clear that each of the major parties would have the support of their voters for a policy of prison population reduction, and of ensuring people are not sentenced to prison for offences such as theft where possible.

Why does it matter?
Short prison sentences are proven to be less effective at reducing reoffending than community sentences. We can find smarter ways of tackling persistent, petty crime. Short prison sentences are short-sighted because they disrupt family ties, housing, employment and treatment programmes for example, but they do not provide any meaningful rehabilitation.

These sentences contribute to prison ‘churn’ and volatility. At the same time, the use of community sentences, which can include requirements such as mental health treatment, alcohol misuse treatment and drug misuse treatment, has declined – substantially and rapidly.

People who have direct experience of the system can explain why short prison sentences often fail to break the cycle of offending, and why support in the community can make a difference.

What is the solution?
The government should introduce a presumption against the use of short custodial sentences of less than six months. This would allow such a sentence only when no other appropriate disposal is available. Where short prison sentences are imposed, courts would have to say why.

This approach does not remove the court’s discretion; it is a presumption not a ban. Therefore, under these proposals offences that are serious and/or risk harm, such as domestic violence, can be dealt with appropriately by the courts.

At the same time there is a need to strengthen community sentences so that they command public confidence and are able to deal effectively with some of the underlying causes of persistent, petty offending, including drug or alcohol misuse and mental health. However, there is no value in continuing with the failed policy of short sentences while we wait. Clear direction from government on the need to reduce inappropriate short sentences should be the welcome catalyst for action.

What change do we hope to see?
As a start we want to see the least harmful and least serious theft or drug offences dealt with differently. The least serious quarter of these cases represents 2,250 people or 4 people per parliamentary constituency. It is surely possible that there are 4 people in each constituency who could be safely given a community sentence rather than ineffective short prison sentence. To do otherwise is short-sighted.

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Three months on, another Justice Secretary, another speech

Three months on, another Justice Secretary, another speech

Less than three months after David Lidington delivered his first keynote address as Lord Chancellor, a number of us gathered in central London to hear his successor, David Gauke, offer his take on prison reform. Though it was good to hear Mr Gauke emphasise the importance of clean and decent living conditions, his apparent belief that ‘reducing reoffending’ will meaningfully reduce the prison population is mistaken. This can only come about through a coherent and sustained plan to reduce the numbers criminalised and imprisoned in the first place.
In the news
Earlier this month, over 180 residents and community campaigners braved the snow to attend a packed Community Plan for Holloway meeting. The audience heard from an anti-prison activist, housing campaigners and local residents who together called for the land on the former prison site to be used in the community interest.

Last week, our research on the injustices of Joint Enterprise convictions was referenced in an excellent piece in The Guardian on how being young and black can be bad for your liberty.

Off the press
Our latest report, After Holloway, examines the impact on the prisoners of the closure of the Holloway prison. Published in partnership with Women in Prison, it draws on a consultation with some 50 women.

Comment and analysis

The system for monitoring police custody needs fundamental reform, writes John Kendall.

Read the speech by our Deputy Director, Will McMahon, on the emerging community vision for the former Holloway prison site.

Mike Guilfoyle reflects on how institutional failure led to a sad outcome.

With the prisons system in England and Wales in crisis, we are holding a roundtable on prisons, profit and privatisation later this month. Register today.

In June 2018, we are co-hosting the International Conference on Penal Abolition, bringing together those working for a world without prisons. Register your details here and you’ll be kept in the loop on our plans.

And finally…
‘In 2016, the likelihood of self-inflicted death of offenders in custody was 8.6 times greater than the likelihood of suicide in the general population… It is lamentable that the UK’s prison system should have been allowed to decline to its current unsatisfactory levels, bringing with it a rise in depression and suicide as prisoners find themselves part of a system that puts containment above reform’. Recent Editorial comment in The Lancet.

Article written by Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

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A criminal justice system fit for the 21st century

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A criminal justice system fit for the 21st century

Twenty five years ago Tony Blair announced the new Labour criminal justice policy: ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. It was a classic piece of triangulation that included the competing punitive and liberal approaches to dealing with crime and offenders that have long characterised criminal justice reform.

Quarter of a century later, despite a plethora of reforms and changes to the justice system by successive governments, the system is arguably neither ‘tough on crime’ nor on its ‘causes’. That is the conclusion of the first part of a Crest research project funded by the Hadley Trust looking at our current system of punishment and rehabilitation, analysing each component of the system and the extent to which it meets its objectives.

The challenges facing justice
Our justice system is facing very different challenges to twenty five years ago. Crime is more harmful, offenders are more prolific and there is less money available.

But unlike other public services, the justice system has failed to adapt. Many of the assumptions underpinning how justice is delivered have remained unchanged. Despite decades of change, there is too little punishment in the community and too little rehabilitation in prison. Failures remain at every stage of the system:

Low level offending is tolerated, rather than challenged
Punishment within the community is virtually non-existent – meaning prisons are over-utilised
Prisons and probation are over-stretched and lack the levers to address the social causes of crime, meaning rehabilitation is neglected
Nothing epitomises the centralising monolith more than prison. It remains the only ‘real punishment’ in the public’s eyes. All other initiatives are built around the presumption that they are ‘alternatives’ to custody, which will always be there as a last resort if things go wrong. Prisons are incredibly expensive to run and manage, they suck up criminal justice resources and in doing so prevent experimentation elsewhere. Increasingly dangerous places to be held, there is little suggestion they are able to tackle the kinds of complex problems that are held within their walls.

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The limitations of national policy reforms
The major reforms of the last twenty five years – from the creation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ – have relied on outdated ‘new public management’ principles of top-down targets and market incentives.

Such approaches were arguably suitable for transactional services (such as refuse collection or hip operations) responding to relatively ‘tame’ problems, which could be dealt with within functional silos, where providers and users respond rationally to incentives. But they are insufficient to deal with the growing complexity of managing offenders, who are increasingly harmful, prolific and chaotic.
Traditional models of reform

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As a result, the criminal justice system does not operate as a 21st century public service. Processes are prioritised over relationships; offenders are treated as homogeneous, rather than a diverse group of people with complex needs. Innovation is neglected at the expense of off-the-peg solutions and the system remains isolated from other public services, which are better able to address the root cause of crime and offending (through access to health, training, housing and skills).

The need for a new model
For years, the UK has been stuck in a stale debate between those in favour of a more liberal/ welfare-oriented justice system (focused on rehabilitation) and those in favour of a more punitive approach (emphasising punishment). This is a false choice. The solution is not to prioritise punishment and/ or rehabilitation over the other – but to combine both.

And we need to look to other systems that are transforming themselves to deal with modern challenges. For example, the new NHS alternative care systems or ‘vanguards’ are aiming to reconfigure the system, reducing the reliance on hospitals (which absorb both budgets and talent) in order to integrate services around the needs of individuals with complex and changing health needs, who drive much of the demand.

    We need a new model for the justice system, one which balances punishment and rehabilitation, and which is underpinned by three core principles:

  • Devolving power to shift money money upstream, so we can address the root causes of crime and strengthen punishments in the community
  • Integrating services around the lives of those who use the justice system, rather than according to Whitehall silos treating offenders as a homogenous group.
  • Deepening relationships with professionals given the resources and incentives to genuinely transform lives, rather than simply processing people through the system.

In the coming months we will be testing practical ideas for change and the principles underpinning them with practitioners, providers and users. In particular we are interested in how prolific offenders – who continue to drive much of the demand across the criminal justice system – could be dealt with in a different way. We are keen to hear your views so please do get in touch if you have insights to share. And keep an eye out for the final report on this project in the summer.

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Government on track to hit target of 2,500 new prison officers ahead of schedule

Government on track to hit target of 2,500 new prison officers ahead of schedule

Almost 2,000 prison officers have been recruited since the launch of a campaign to bring in 2,500 additional officers by the end of 2018.

Almost 2,000 prison officers have been recruited since the launch of a campaign to bring in 2,500 additional officers by the end of this year, new figures released by Justice Secretary David Gauke have revealed today (15 February 2018).

And a further 1,582 new recruitsghave been offered roles and are booked onto Prison Officer Training (POELT) courses, meaning the Government is on target to recruit the 2,500 officers nine months ahead of schedule.

Figures released today show there was a net increase of 1,970 officers from October 2016 to December last year, up from 17,955 to 19,925. The boost in staffing numbers will help deliver our new Offender Management in Custody model which will provide prisoners with a keyworker to support them in custody.

The recruitment efforts form part of a wider drive to ensure that all prisons are fully staffed so that they can deliver safe and decent regimes. Prison officer recruitment will continue over the coming months and new recruits, alongside existing staff, are being given improved Suicide and Self Harm (SASH) prevention training, with 14,300 staff members having now received it.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said:

I want to commend our hard-working prison officers who do a vital job in protecting the public every day, often in very challenging, difficult and dangerous circumstances. These figures show we are on target to recruit 2,500 additional prison officers.

I am determined to tackle the issues in our prisons head on and I am committed to getting the basics right so we can focus on making them safe and decent places to support rehabilitation. Staffing is the golden thread that links the solutions we need to put in place to drive improvement, so I am delighted our recruitment efforts are working.

Today’s announcement shows that the government’s nationwide drive to recruit the best talent from around the country into the prison service – regardless of age or background – is working.

Governors are being given greater flexibility over their local recruitment and encouraged to engage with new schemes and initiatives to attract the best and most committed talent.

By having more staff on the ground, staff will be better supported to do the job they came into the prison service to do, and spend more time reforming offenders.

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Soldier On: A new play by Jonathan Lewis


Solider On A new play written and directed by Jonathan Guy Lewis
A new play written and directed by Jonathan Guy Lewis

Soldier On – a new stage play written by soldier turned actor turned writer and director Jonathan Guy Lewis will tour and have its London run during spring 2018.Currently about to enter rehearsals a passionate group of individuals, many of them army veterans, will bring to life through a combination of storytelling and dance, hard-hitting, poignant and close to their own hearts experiences.It’s their words that do the talking in what one veteran, filmmaker Neil Davies, has named, The Full Military Monty. This play, through its humour, warmth and searing honesty, will undoubtedly entertain it’s audiences and lay bare many shocking and sometimes heart-warming truths. Most importantly Soldier On will put every cast, crew and audience member in touch with some very real and often disturbing facts of life about the world we live in – specifically Britain in 2018.As Jonathan allows the story to unfold through the accounts of his characters here below are heartfelt words from the people who are making this special theatrical event happen….Their passion for Soldier On and the work of The Soldiers’ Arts Academy is palpable.What happens when a company of ex-soldiers becomes a company of actors? A theatrical band of brothers. Although it’s not a cure all, the bonding, the humour, the theatre of war helps to put them back together again – as a company of veterans and actors rehearse a play about a company of veterans and actors. Although worlds apart they begin to realize there are more similarities between military life and the theatre than they bargained for, building a powerful new world of their own. This is a heart warming story about surviving the forces and PTSD and what happens when you leave the military ‘family”.

Jonathan Lewis – Director/writer

Having been an Army Scholar, invalided out of the army and then playing Sgt Chris McCleod in two series of ITV’s Soldier, Soldier back in the ’90’s, I think it’s safe to say that the military and the themes that arise out of serving Queen & Country are never far away from me. And now more than ever we need to support the thousands of people who’ve served and returned – to validate and affirm them, in a world that seems to be turning upside down.
We now have much more of an understanding of the existence of PTSD than we ever did, so how do we get better at moving beyond knowing and acknowledging to creating opportunities for veterans to process these complex emotions in a positive and life enhancing way. I’ve written Soldier On for exactly this purpose – to create a piece of theatre that can sit alongside the other great creative work that is happening, that is both entertaining and cathartic for it’s actors and its audiences. The ancient world knew all about the horrors of war. After a battle was fought, traditionally, the survivors would make a big fire, stand around it and talk about their experience of the fight. They would create a shared narrative which helped to process the trauma and bring the warriors together. The modern warrior, even with support networks, often feels isolated and neglected, and on returning to the communities from whence they came there is a disconnect. No longer need. Surplus to requirements. Soldier On is my contribution to help warriors with the daily battles they face on their return.

Amanda Faber – Producer
I have been working with injured veterans and their local communities since 2012 to explore the ways in which the arts can facilitate transition and recovery for returning service personnel. Often PTSD can take years to surface and the impact it can have on the lives of the soldiers and their families is profound. Soldier On by Jonathan Lewis is a brilliant play – funny and honest and heart-warming. The cast includes veterans working alongside civilian actors and the plot revolves around a group of injured veterans putting on a play. The Soldiers’ Arts Academy is launching a seven-week national tour in Spring 2018 to raise awareness of the difficulties currently faced by around 66,000 veterans injured mentally and /or physically or those experiencing transitional difficulties. The tour will also bring the clear message to local communities that the arts can provide a viable alternative to sport as a recovery route. The tour will also announce a national initiative called “Art Force” which will aim to encourage veterans to build art hubs where they can get together with their local community as a chance to learn new skills, to recover and to transition back into the local community and into work. The tour will be accompanied by workshops for veterans and schools. Contact to book or to find out more.

Cassidy Little – Ex Royal Marine turned actor/dancer

Like rehabilitation, the arts are always moving forward.  New ideas compliment old ideas and fresh ideas revitalize dated concepts.  I am so pleased to continue my recovery in a project like Soldier On, created by the Soldiers Arts academy, allowing me access and opportunity with actors, writers, creators, and like-minded people on a similar path of recovery.

Shaun Johnson – Army Veteran turned actor

‘Soldier On’ is an excellent opportunity for the audience to spend time in our REAL world. This play gives us a voice to highlight physical, mental or transitional difficulty challenges often faced when leaving the military.

The making of the play bonded our cast, formed trusting relationships and injected long lost confidence back into the soul. We invite you to come along and join in with us as we, laugh, cry, and dance together telling you our story.

Tour/ venue dates


Northcott theatre Exeter Thursday 22nd/ 23rd February

Woodville theatre Gravesend Thursday 1st March

Playground Theatre London

Tuesday 13th March to Saturday 31st March

York Theatre Royal studio

Wednesday 4th – 7th April

The North Wall Oxford

Thursday 19th and 20th April

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The World’s Most Overcrowded Prison Systems

The World’s Most Overcrowded Prison Systems

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A global problem
In England and Wales, prison overcrowding is defined by the prison service as a prison containing more prisoners than the establishment’s Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA). CNA represents “the good, decent standard of accommodation that the [prison] service aspires to provide all prisoners.”

According to the Prison Reform Trust’s latest Bromley Briefing, the prison system as a whole has been overcrowded in every year since 1994. Overcrowding affects whether activities, staff and other resources are available to reduce risk of reoffending, as well as distance from families and other support networks.

In 2016–17, two-thirds of prisons in England and Wales were overcrowded (79 of the 119 prisons). Nearly 21,000 people were held in overcrowded accommodation—almost a quarter of the prison population. The majority were doubling up in cells designed for one. This level of overcrowding has remained broadly unchanged for the last 14 years.

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. has a prison population of 2.2 million, 481 inmates per 100,000 of the population. The U.S. prison system has attracted headlines for overcrowding with 18 states reporting they were operating at over 100 percent capacity at the end of 2014.

According to the World Prison Brief, England and Wales has an occupancy level of 111.6 per cent and is rated as 93rd worst in the worldwhen it comes to overcrowding in prisons, while the U.S. has an an occupancy level of 103.9% and comes 113th.

Somebody who gets arrested and jailed in Haiti will have to endure far tougher conditions. The Caribbean nation has the most overcrowded prisons of any country worldwide and its institutions are operating at 454 percent capacity. That has resulted in 80 to 100 men being crammed into a single cell at once, malnutrition and the spread of disease. Many of Haiti’s inmates have not been convicted of a crime and the UN has condemned the situtation, saying inmates are subject to daily violations of their human rights.

The situation in the Philippines is similar and conditions in its prisons have deteriorated steadily since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs. That has seen the number of arrests skyrocket with thousands of people thrown into prison. That has seen occupancy rates stretched to 436 percent of capacity and Quezon City Jail is a good example. An ABC News report claims the facility was built to house 262 prisoners and it now hosts over 3,000. El Salvador comes third for prison overcrowding with its institutions operating at 348.2 percent of their capacity.

For full details, see the infographic below from Statista.

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Prison conditions—is the worst still yet to come?


Prison conditions—is the worst still yet to come?

Prison conditions

This month saw the publication of yet more figures showing the continuing slide in safety and decency in our prisons. Despite a small and welcome decline in the numbers of deaths in custody, the Ministry of Justice’s Safety in Custody statistics show that all other indicators have reached record highs—with record levels of self harm and record levels of assaults on both prisoners and staff.

The findings are likely to come as little surprise to supporters of the Prison Reform Trust. Our Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile has repeatedly raised the alarm over deteriorating conditions over the last five years.

The publication of the figures coincide with the appointment of a new ministerial team at the Ministry of Justice, with David Gauke replacing David Lidington as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Rory Stewart replacing Sam Gyimah as prisons minister; and Lucy Frazer taking on the portfolio of Dominic Raab. Rory Stewart met PRT director, Peter Dawson, this week and David Gauke has also agreed to meet Peter and PRT’s chair, James Timpson.

Whilst ministers will be rapidly getting to grips with their new briefs, the publication of the findings of an unannounced inspection at HMP Liverpool by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, and the issuing of the first ever urgent notification by the Chief Inspector following an inspection visit to HMP Nottingham, have thrown ministers in at the deep end; charged with rectifying the mistakes of their predecessors. Writing in the Huffington Post and The Times (£), Peter Dawson cautioned that the worst may yet still be to come, with impending cuts of £600m to the Ministry of Justice’s budget.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee following the inspection of HMP Liverpool, Rory Stewart committed to restoring decency to prisons and getting “back to basics”. Whilst undoubtedly welcome, back to basics on prison reform cannot just mean fixing broken windows and cleaning dirty and infested accommodation, necessary though this is. It must also include a concerted and sustained effort to take the pressure off overstretched prisons by reducing prison numbers to a sustainable level.

Maternal imprisonment

In an innovative partnership, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Oxford University and the Prison Reform Trust have come together to create new resources, including films and briefings, for criminal justice professionals to help improve their understanding of the impacts of maternal imprisonment.

It is estimated that 17,000 children every year are affected by maternal imprisonment in England and Wales. 95% (16,000) of these children are forced to leave their homes as their mother’s imprisonment leaves them without an adult to take care of them.

Despite this, no government agency has responsibility for ensuring the welfare of these children is safeguarded and their rights are protected.

Dr Shona Minson, a Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology at Oxford University has conducted research on the implications of maternal imprisonment for children. The research findings show that the experience of having a mother in prison not only negatively impacts a child’s relationship with their mother, but can affect every area of their lives including their education, health, and well being. The knock-on effects of stigmatisation may also lead to social isolation and discrimination.

The resource includes short films and briefing papers, which will be used across the criminal justice professions including by the Judicial College, Magistrates Association, Law Society, Criminal Bar Association and probation services.

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New ministerial team at the MoJ

New Ministerial Team at the MOJ

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Who’s who at the MoJ?

Not only did Theresa May replace David Lidington with David Gauke but she promoted two of the MoJ’s junior ministers too, Dominic Raab was promoted to housing minister while Sam Gyimah was promoted to Universities Minister, Minister of State at the Department for Education. Their replacements are Rory Stewart as Minister of State and Lucy Frazer, whose role is not yet specified.

Roles and responsibilities

As you can see, Rory Stewart is Minister of State replacing Dominic Raab. The roles and responsibilities of Phillip Lee and Lucy Frazer have not been clarified. To the outsider, it would make sense if Mr Lee continues to be Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice and Ms Frazer takes over as Minister for Prisons and Probation (the post previously held by Sam Gyimah). However, it is entirely possible that roles will be re-allocated. I have requested this information from the MoJ and will update the post on receipt. Finally, Lord Keen of Elie remains MoJ spokesperson in the House of Lords. I have included the new ministers’ Twitter feeds in case you want to follow them.

Rory Stewart – Minister of State

Roderick James Nugent “Rory” Stewart, (born 3 January 1973) is a British diplomat, politician, and writer. Stewart was a senior coalition official in Iraq in 2003–04. He is known for his book about this experience, The Prince of the Marshes (also published under the title Occupational Hazards), and for his 2002 walk across Afghanistan (one part of a larger walk across Asia), which served as the basis for another book, The Places in Between. In July 2008, he was appointed Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University.

Since May 2010, he has been the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border; he is a former Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee and moved from being Minister of State at the Department for International Development and as Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The Parliament UK website lists his political interests as local democracy, rural affairs, broadband and foreign affairs. He led a review on the reasons why a number of British veterans become criminal offenders after returning to civilian life but stepped down before it was complete when he was appointed Chair of the Defence Committee. Many commentators were surprised that he was moved from a department where he had considerable expertise to one where he has none.

Lucy Frazer – Role as yet unspecified

Lucy Frazer (born 17 May 1972) studied at Cambridge where she was President of the Cambridge Union. She worked as a barrister in commercial law, and went on to become a QC at the age of forty. She won the South East Cambridgeshire seat in the 2015 general election with 28,845 votes (48.5%), a margin of victory of 16,837. and was elected to sit on the Education Select Committee in the same year. She also sat on the Policing and Crime Bill Committee in 2016. Ms Frazer was also David Lidington’s (the previous Justice Secretary) Parliamentary Private Secretary and sat in on a number of his meetings which will make her perhaps the best prepared of the new ministerial team.

Phillip Lee – Currently victims, youth and family justice

Phillip Lee is a qualified GP who was elected to parliament in 2010; he continues to work as a GP (for about 20-30 hours per month, see details on the theyworkforyou site), and he remains the sole Minister to remain in place at Petty France following this reshuffle. We must wait and see whether he retains responsibility for victims, youth and family justice.

Lord Keen – Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokeperson for the Lords

Richard Sanderson Keen has a long-standing involvement in the law having been an advocate (the equivalent of a barrister in England and Wales) in Scotland since 1980. He was chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party in 2014 and was ennobled in June 2015 when he became Advocate General for Scotland. He was the Lords spokesperson for the Home Office from April 2016 until moving to the MoJ later that year.

As an advocate he was involved in many high level cases representing Rangers Football Club and Andy Coulson among others. Lord Keen is not on Twitter.


Overall, the main problem facing the new MoJ team is the lack of continuity. In addition to frequent changes of Justice Secretary (5 postholders in the last three years), there is also a new Minister of State in Rory Stewart with little or no apparent knowledge of criminal justice and Sam Gyimah, the prisons and probation minister has moved on. Both David Gauke (solicitor) and Lucy Frazer (barrister and QC) are legally trained but had careers in commercial law.

Given the current parlous state of the prison and probation services, it’s a shame that a political reshuffle has delayed the momentum of reform and snuffed out again any chance of badly needed leadership in the justice arena

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