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Frances Crook's blog · 26 Nov 2019

General Election 2019: The Conservative Manifesto

Frances Crook in front of office bookshelves

My fourth blogpost looks at the Conservative manifesto. The main problem is that many of the specific proposals are in opposition to evidence. Either they are not backed up by evidence, they are directly contradicted by evidence or, at best, they lack evidence.

There is a commitment to toughen up community sentences by making people do even longer hours when the probation service was destroyed by the Conservative government, which means that it is incapable of arranging, supervising and delivering the existing requirements. This proposal will set people up to fail. And, when they fail they will join the tens of thousands of men and women sent into prison for short periods. The commitment to abolish short sentences, backed up by evidence published by the Ministry of Justice, is nowhere to be seen.

There are promises to reduce serious and organised crime and online crime, which is all well and good, but how exactly?

At the centre of the manifesto is the obsession with building more and more prisons

I’m pleased to see a promise for greater support for women’s refuges and victims of crime, but I would like to have seen some funding commitments to go along with this.

At the centre of the manifesto is the obsession with building more and more prisons. When building new prisons was first mooted, the idea was to replace dilapidated jails with shiny new ones. This has disappeared, so now more prisons are being built to add to the existing estate. The trouble is that new prisons are shabby and dilapidated before they are even filled up. This policy is building failure on failure.

Stuck on the end of a paragraph about a review of the parole system is the suggestion to establish a Royal Commission on the criminal justice process, which could be a really interesting and courageous initiative. Let’s hope. Goodness knows, the whole system is badly in need of comprehensive reform – we are keen to help.

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