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Our success

Read about some of our recent successes.

Frances Crook, Mark Haddon, Rachel Billington, Sir David Hare and AL Kennedy present a letter at Downing Street

The Howard League has been campaigning for over 150 years and over the course of our history we have celebrated many achievements.

During the 20th Century, we played a key role in major criminal justice reforms: from the abolition of corporal and capital punishment to the formation of the probation service and encouraging support for victims of crime.

In our most recent history, the Howard League has secured a number of key achievements and conducted some important inquiries which have had lasting impact.

The Children Act case

Just because a child is in prison doesn’t mean they stop being a child. In 2003, the Howard League took the government to court and argued that the Children Act 1989 must apply to children in custody too. We won the case and secured welfare support for children in and out of custody.

Read more about our legal work representing young people in custody.

Citizenship and Crime project

Between 1997 and 2006, the Howard League ran this project in primary and secondary schools across the country, working with over 22,000 children aged 10–16. The project enabled children to explore the issues of crime and citizenship in a way that was relevant and meaningful to them.

Read a report which explores some of the issues that children themselves raised as part of the project.

Barbed: real work in prison

In 2005, the Howard League launched a unique graphic design studio based in Coldingley prison. ‘Barbed’ was the first such social enterprise to operate in a UK prison and was possibly the first of its kind in the world. Prisoners were recruited and trained as graphic designers. They received a real wage and paid tax and national insurance.

We now run a centre of excellence on real work in prison where you can learn more.

The Carlile Inquiry

In 2007, the Howard League published a landmark report into the physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children’s homes.

Read the report and a follow-up published ten years later.

The Commission on English Prisons Today

The Commission on English Prisons Today took a radical look at the purpose and limits of the penal system. Its final report, published in 2009, was a road-map for long term and fundamental reform.

Read Do Better, Do Less: the report of the Commission on English Prisons Today.

U R Boss

U R Boss was a project led by young people for young people. Launched in 2009 and supported by the Big Lottery Fund for five years, U R Boss supported young people in the criminal justice system to secure their legal rights and to have an impact on policy, practice and the services that affect them.

Visit the U R Boss microsite to learn more.

An inquiry into former armed service personnel in prison

This Howard League inquiry looked at why so many ex-servicemen become involved with the criminal justice system and what can be done to reduce the number of those who commit offences resulting in custody. The inquiry’s findings have proved influential and resulted in the government commissioning its own review.

Read the inquiry’s final report, published in 2011.

The commission on sex in prison

Over the course of 2013 and 2014, the Howard League established this independent commission to undertake the first ever review of sex inside prison. The commission published a series of five briefings, including research which interviewed prisoners about their experiences.

Read the commission’s final research briefing and find links to the other reports.

Books For Prisoners

In 2014, the Howard League campaigned against restrictions on prisoners receiving books from friends and family. Not only was the campaign successful, but the Howard League won a Charity Award in 2015 in recognition of our work.

Read more about the campaign.

What Is Justice?

From 2013 to 2016, the Howard League supported a research symposium seeking to re-imagine penal policy. A series of publications and two major conferences held in Oxford explored new ideas and bold directions.

Read more about the symposium.

Campaign against the criminal courts charge

The Howard League’s campaign against the criminal courts charge saw the policy scrapped within the space of only four months during 2015.

Read more about what we did.

Reducing child arrests

Since 2010, the Howard League has been campaigning to reduce the numbers of child arrests in England and Wales. Thanks to our work with the police, the numbers of child arrests fell by 59% between 2010 and 2015.

Read about our work on children and policing.

Preventing suicides in prison

Over the course of 2015 to 2017, the Howard League and Centre for Mental Health published a series of four briefings looking at the prevention of suicide behind bars, at a time when these deaths reached record levels.

Read about the inquiry and find links to its publications.

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