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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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  • 10 Jan 2018
    Enshrining children’s rights in policy and practice

    The Howard League is working in partnership with Defence for Children International (DCI) Belgium, DCI Italy and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which is based in Poland. This international project is funded by the EU and aims to promote children’s rights by improving detention conditions for children and enhancing the legal protections for children deprived of their liberty.  Read more

  • 3 Jan 2018
    Christmas in a children’s prison

    I visited a prison holding 160 teenage boys aged 15 to 17 over the Christmas holidays. It was a depressing day. An inspection report, which I have not seen but fully expect will be critical, is due to be published soon, so I am not going to comment on the overall treatment of the children at this stage. I just want to say something about Christmas.  Read more

  • 5 Dec 2017
    Another weekend, another prison disturbance

    There was yet another prison disturbance at the weekend. Men in Swaleside prison, a Kent jail intended to be a training establishment, took over a wing for a short time on Sunday and the prison riot squad was called in to sort it out.  Read more

  • 10 Nov 2017
    Thoughts on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s address to the Howard League AGM

    The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, was invited to give a lecture at the Howard League’s most important event of the year, our AGM. She used the opportunity to call for more young children, in effect more black boys, to be sent to prison and for longer.  Read more

  • 3 Nov 2017
    With food prices rising, should we prepare for civil dissent?

    We held a lively meeting with trustees to review the charity’s strategy this week. We were looking at the work of the Howard League and how we should focus our (quite meagre) resources in future. One of our trustees raised an alarming prospect that could derail all our, and the government’s, best-laid plans.  Read more

  • 27 Oct 2017
    IPP prisoners are tangled within a Kafka novel

    I visited a local prison a couple of weeks ago, and as I always do, I chatted to people I met along the way. One conversation stuck with me and the man has since written to me to tell me his story.  Read more

  • 25 Oct 2017
    Children in the care system should be cared for and not criminalised

    Last week the Howard League hosted an event for lawyers from different disciplines to come together to think about how to work together creatively to reduce the criminalisation of children in care.  Children are being criminalised at excessively high rates in children's homes compared to other children in the community. There's a complex interplay of factors leading to this situation which is likely to include the child's background and vulnerabilities and, most critically, systemic failings.  Read more

  • 5 Oct 2017
    Our campaigning is making a real difference for children

    Some three years ago the Howard League revealed that some youth offending teams were recommending punitive restrictions on children when they were released from prison, which set them up to fail and put them at risk of being sent back to prison.  Read more

  • 2 Oct 2017
    Conservative Party Conference 2017: Notes from the Howard League fringe event

    The Howard League has hosted fringe meetings at the various political party conferences for many years. This gives a platform to ministers and shadow ministers to talk less formally about their penal policies and gives an opportunity to engage with party activists and community leaders.  Read more

  • 29 Sep 2017
    Books For Prisoners: Erlestoke

    I have been contacted by a mother of a prisoner in Erlestoke. She was told she was not permitted to send her son books. She wanted to give him novels and he had asked for a dictionary.  Read more

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