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Howard League blog · 20 Nov 2019

General Election 2019: The Green Party manifesto

The Green Party manifesto was published this week. At 88 pages it is pretty comprehensive, although most of the crime proposals are entreaties to do things better rather than specific legislative reforms. As we know from long experience, just asking people to do things does not necessary achieve the desired result. Although, it is also true that simply introducing new laws can have no effect or indeed have unintended consequences.

The policies chime pretty much with what the Howard League has been promoting. There is a welcome recognition that investment in education and employment are better crime prevention tools than punishment. However, the Green Party has bought into the shibboleth that having more police officers wandering the streets would prevent crime.

There is a brave call to halve the prison population and the Green Party points to the success in the Netherlands where this has been achieved. They call for a cut to the number of short prison sentences, again a very welcome policy, but it is not clear how this would be achieved.

There is a very strange proposal to have lots of secure centres locking up women across the country, based I think on a misunderstanding about what existing women’s centres do, as they are almost all not residential and certainly not custodial. The manifesto admits that prison is not working for women, but the muddle about having new custodial centres indicates sloppy thinking or failure to consult. We’d be happy to correct them.

I welcome the call to invest in youth services and the recognition that swingeing cuts to local activities for young people have had devastating effects and have contributed to young people getting into conflict with the criminal law.

Overall, a well meaning manifesto covering criminal justice issues, but sometimes too glib and not based on expertise and so there is a bit of a muddle about some of the proposals.


  • Roger Key says:

    Sounding rude but not meaning to be, The Greens are such a small party (I’m hoping for a number more Green MPs) that their policies don’t all have to be ‘thought through’. Identifying the desperate need to change the process from creating crime/criminals through youth services, cutting prison population (community penalties?) etc are good pins in a map. Let them then draw others to those pins rather than wasting resource on unneeded detail. The Women’s Centres seems like a silly mistake though.

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