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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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  • 17 Jun 2019
    What really happens when someone is asked to do unpaid work

    Community service, or unpaid work, had been a success story for decades; that is until Chris Grayling destroyed the probation service and split it, incorporating it into the private community rehabilitation companies. The idea of getting people who have committed a crime to make amends by doing some community work and perhaps learning a skill that …  Read more

  • 14 Jun 2019
    Homelessness and the penal system

    The new prisons minister, Robert Buckland MP, recently replied to a Parliamentary Question from Richard Burgon MP, the shadow justice secretary, concerning the number of people received into prison who are homeless. This was interesting because most debate has centred around people being homeless on release from prison, which is, of course, still a major …  Read more

  • 4 Jun 2019

    Last year I wrote about the history of Feltham, showing how it has never been a safe place for children, never cared for challenging children well, and never helped them on the road to a good and useful life. The failure of Feltham prison with children is a national scandal. Now yet another report tells …  Read more

  • 28 May 2019
    Extending release on temporary licence is a decision based on evidence

    More prisoners will be given the opportunity for early release on temporary licence. This is another undoing of a Chris Grayling decision, which was taken six years ago and meant that thousands of men and women spent longer in prison and were denied the opportunity to find work, spend time with families prior to release …  Read more

  • 17 May 2019
    Sentencing young adults

    Back in January, the Howard League launched a briefing paper based on more than a year of work with judges and young people. The publication, Sentencing Principles for Young Adults, sets out how the sentencing of young people, typically aged between 18 and 25, could be improved. Working with the Barrow Cadbury coalition, T2A, we drew …  Read more

  • 16 May 2019
    Reunifying probation is a bold and sensible step

    I warmly welcome the plan to reunify probation into a national public service and the aim of promoting confidence in community sentences to replace prison terms of under a year that are known to be counter-productive. I commend the justice secretary for taking this bold and sensible step and I hope he will go on to …  Read more

  • 15 May 2019
    Notes from Geneva

    We submitted evidence to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, setting out how the UK fails to live up to its obligations under the Convention, and I was invited to go to Geneva to give a briefing to the Committee before it grilled our government representatives. The human rights organisation Redress had co-ordinated an over-arching submission, …  Read more

  • 3 May 2019
    Giving evidence to the United Nations

    I am going to Geneva to give oral evidence to the Committee against Torture on how the UK government fails to uphold its obligations. The Howard League submitted written evidence to the committee to inform its questioning of the government on Tuesday. The Howard League was one of the very first non-governmental organisations to be granted …  Read more

  • 17 Apr 2019
    Children in prison

    In 2002 the Howard League for Penal Reform went to court to fight for children in prison to have the same right to be protected under the Children Act 1989 as children in the community. The High Court heard evidence from us that children in prison were just that, children, vulnerable and needy. Mr Justice Munby, …  Read more

  • 16 Apr 2019
    Notes from a visit to the National Probation Service in Wales

    Thank you to everyone in the National Probation Service (NPS) in Wales for meeting me and showing me round last week. I got some really interesting insights into the changes taking place and the immense challenges staff face. The message to ministers is that reintegration of the service is going well and is popular with staff. …  Read more

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