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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 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

  • 10 Apr 2019
    It’s better to come out of prison with a job than a sleeping bag

    Despite Brexit, there has been a flurry of reports and statements indicating that government is moving towards abolishing short prison sentences and intends to try to sort out community sentences. My concern is that, because of Brexit (sorry to mention it twice in the first paragraph), there will be no reforming legislation to make these …  Read more

  • 18 Mar 2019
    Ofsted’s new inspection regime is better, but still needs work

    In the last couple of weeks, the Independent Inquiry into Sex Abuse has published its report on abuse of children in penal custody and former prison officers have been convicted of violently assaulting boys in Medomsley detention centre. Children in custody have nowhere to run to if they are being abused, assaulted, violated or mistreated. Three years …  Read more

  • 13 Mar 2019
    Medomsley

    The convictions of five former staff for assaulting boys in Medomsley detention centre comes after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse found more than 1,000 allegations of sexual abuse of children in jails. The history of incarcerating children and young people is littered with sexual abuse and violence. I think the violence has changed over …  Read more

  • 4 Mar 2019
    The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: Here’s what should happen next

    The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published its findings on how children in jails have been victims of sexual abuse. It found more than 1,000 allegations of abuse and says that there are too many children in custody, particularly too many remanded to custody, and this is putting them at risk. The report …  Read more

  • 25 Feb 2019
    Principles for probation

    I attended a meeting today on how to sort out probation. We agreed that it was under the ‘Chatham House Rule’, which means I can talk about what we talked about but I will not identify who was there or who said what. All I will say is that the meeting included some representatives from …  Read more

  • 22 Feb 2019
    The state cannot outsource its human rights obligations

    The high court made an important judgment this week about the failure of the Ministry of Justice to monitor private prisons. It got no media coverage as it got lost in the maelstrom of politics. Peterborough prison, run by the French food company Sodexo, admitted that it had carried out illegal strip searches on three women and …  Read more

  • 28 Jan 2019
    My link to John Howard via Bedford prison

    I did some television interviews on Bedford prison last week, discussing the inspection report that had revealed a prison in turmoil. The inspectorate found conditions in the prison to be so dangerous that it took the rare step last year of invoking the Urgent Notification protocol to demand immediate action. The inspection report was finally …  Read more

  • 28 Nov 2018
    Why I’d like to meet the man who burgled my home

    This is going to be personal. I was burgled a couple of weeks ago. I got home on a Friday evening and couldn’t get into my house because the lock had been deadlocked. I had to get a locksmith to come out and drill the lock out. Then we found that the chain had been put …  Read more

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