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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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  • 29 Aug 2018
    Why police and crime commissioners should not be the local vehicle for probation reform

    We are in discussion with the Ministry of Justice and various interested organisations about the future of probation. We have developed a blueprint for how we could solve the problems created by Chris Grayling's disastrous reforms but there are some structural issues that are proving contentious. Some people are suggesting that police and crime commissioners should …  Read more

  • 23 Aug 2018
    If we want safer prisons, we must have fewer prisoners

    I read two documents back-to-back this morning, which prompted this blog. The first was Rory Stewart’s article on Medium about reducing violence in prisons. The second was the newly released prison population projections from the Ministry of Justice. Rory Stewart’s comments about getting a grip on prison safety are welcome and I support what he is …  Read more

  • 21 Aug 2018
    Employment on release

    The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on how best to support ex-offenders on their path to employment. It is aimed at employers, asking them about their inclusive recruitment and employment practices. It covers anyone convicted of an offence, but I am most concerned about how the prisons are missing a trick when aiming …  Read more

  • 20 Aug 2018
    Birmingham prison and other failures of oversight

    G4S-run Birmingham prison is in the news today because it is failing catastrophically and this has prompted a public debate about the principle of private management of prisons. The Howard League for Penal Reform recently provided evidence concerning the state’s failure to monitor the practices of private companies in the criminal justice system for a high …  Read more

  • 17 Aug 2018
    Notes from an adjudication hearing

    It seems apposite today to post a guest blog about justice in prisons. The Ministry of Justice is making exorbitant claims about making ten of the worst-performing prisons into models for the rest to follow, and all in one year. At the beginning of the week we published a briefing paper showing that prisons are resorting …  Read more

  • 13 Aug 2018
    One-size-fits-all punitive approaches in prison can have devastating consequences

    The Howard League has been working on the issue of punishment in prison. We are particularly concerned about the imposition of additional days of imprisonment when people break rules. The number of extra days added to people’s sentences as punishment has been rising dramatically and the tide shows no signs of abating. As part of our …  Read more

  • 30 Jul 2018
    Reinventing different ways of locking up children – a cautionary tale

    Feltham prison holds boys and young adults. It has a terrible history, and because it is on the outskirts of London and is one of the biggest child jails it has drawn more public attention than other prisons holding children, but its story is similar to many other institutions that hold children in trouble. It has …  Read more

  • 17 Jul 2018
    Funding cut for Circles UK will have far-reaching consequences for public protection

    A very important meeting is taking place in the Ministry of Justice today. The support grant to Circles UK has suddenly been cut – it was only £256,000. Circles UK oversees, and provides the framework for, more than 600 local volunteers working in groups across the country who support men convicted of sex offences when they …  Read more

  • 9 Jul 2018
    Notes from the cells in a city police station

    I like poking about in places of detention, meeting the front line staff and the people being detained. Not just prisons, but police stations and secure hospitals. I recently visited a main city police station with 60 purpose-built cells. The two custody sergeants took me through who happened to be there, mostly men for domestic or …  Read more

  • 26 Jun 2018
    Community Justice and the future of probation

    Forgive me but this blog will be a little longer than usual. We have been thinking a lot about the future of probation at the Howard League, given the train-wreck that was the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms introduced by Chris Grayling. The Justice Select Committee is the latest body to deliver a damning critique of what has …  Read more

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