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Frances Crook’s blog

Frances Crook in front of office bookshelves

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, provides informal comments on the issues of the day.

 

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  • 22 Jun 2017
    The Queen’s Speech and prison reform

    The first duty of government is to keep citizens safe. Over the past few years this has happened as crime has fallen. But there are still intractable problems and the Queen’s Speech singularly ignored one of the most corrosive and potentially explosive – prisons. Prisons are in a shambles. They are riven with violence, drugs, assaults …  Read more

  • 5 Jun 2017
    Reform prisons – just a title

    There were reports in the media that Wandsworth prison has officially lost ‘reform' status. Actually it never really had it. Neither did any of the other prisons that were given the title. For, title was all it really was. Of course, there were also the highly paid additional governors who were imposed on top of the …  Read more

  • 31 May 2017
    Reviewing the Manifestos: Labour

    The last Labour government presided over an explosion in the number of men, women and children sent to prison and the length of time those people were incarcerated. People in prison are generally from economically poor families, with experience of mental health and social deprivation. The sort of people that Labour has claimed to represent. This …  Read more

  • 25 May 2017
    Reviewing the Manifestos: Conservatives

    The Conservative Party manifesto broadly continues the direction the government has been taking over the past couple of years under Michael Gove and Liz Truss. The big spending commitment is the £1billion building programme already being put in place to expand the system, obviously something we oppose. The last thing we need is more prisons. Whilst the …  Read more

  • 18 May 2017
    Reviewing the Manifestos: Liberal Democrats

    I am going to review each of the main party manifestos, starting with the Liberal Democrats. I welcome the fact the party manifesto clearly states that there are too many people in prison. This is an important and principled statement. However, there is no indication of how the party would really address and solve the problem. …  Read more

  • 15 May 2017
    Safeguarding

    Our lawyers speak to children and young people in prison, as well as their loved ones and professionals who work with them every day. More and more often, what we are told causes us concern that they have either been harmed or are at risk of being seriously harmed. This can include self-harm, harm by another …  Read more

  • 9 May 2017
    Healthcare in prisons

    The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published a report into the death of Daniel Adewole, a 16-year-old boy who died at Cookham Wood prison in July 2015. The report raised concerns about the procedures and staff responses at the prison, which only holds children. These replicated systems applied in adult prisons – for example, "a paediatric …  Read more

  • 3 May 2017
    Smoking in prisons

    More prisons are due to ban smoking over the summer. It is difficult to argue that anyone should continue smoking as we all know that it kills, and kills painfully and prematurely. However, smoking tobacco is a highly addictive habit that is incredibly difficult to kick and people need a great deal of help to stop …  Read more

  • 28 Apr 2017
    Scotland’s plan to reform (and reduce) women’s imprisonment

    Yesterday I wrote about our visit to Scotland. We went to explore three particular issues: Scotland’s plan to reform (and reduce) women’s imprisonment, the punishment system that does not include imposing additional days, and the new structure for independent monitors of prisons. Plans for women are, on the face of it, offering serious reform. On 23 April …  Read more

  • 27 Apr 2017
    Lessons from Scotland

    There is rarely much to applaud in the criminal justice system, so it was exhilarating to spend two days in Scotland hearing about good practice and principled leadership. We met with lots of key people and visited Edinburgh prison. Colin McConnell, CEO of the Scottish Prison Service, told us he saw it as a ‘citizen recovery service’. …  Read more

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