Frances Crook’s blog
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, provides informal comments on the issues of the day.
Never miss a blog by Frances Crook. Sign up and get an email alert every time a new blog has been published.
Read more about Frances Crook →
An impossible position: Stay in solitary confinement or get beaten up in a cell?
Last year the Howard League revealed that thousands of years of additional imprisonment had been imposed on prisoners for misbehaviour in prison. Additional days, imposed on prisoners by visiting district judges, place additional strain on a prison system under unprecedented stress.  Read more
Transforming Rehabilitation is having a disastrous impact on women
The Howard League provides support to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System chaired by Baroness Corston. The APPG has been looking at the treatment of women in the new landscape of privatised community penalties. Later this year it will be publishing research based on oral hearings and written submissions.  Read more
The manifest injustice of the IPP
The Chair of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, suggested this week that the people serving indeterminate sentences should be released once their tariff has expired unless it can be proved they continue to be a risk. This is a reversal of the current burden of proof that requires people to prove they are safe.  Read more
Overnight detention of children in police cells
The Howard League has been campaigning to end the overnight detention of children in police cells. Public concern is gaining momentum. On Monday, Just for Kids Law launched a #NoChildInCells campaign. This is linked to its judicial review challenge on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was repeatedly held overnight in police cells.  Read more
Devolution and criminal justice system
Devolution is being offered to Manchester, and it is a great opportunity for the great city to do things differently. Unfortunately, it comes with strings. Indeed, the puppet master is yet again the Treasury and central government and this means that devolution is not quite the real deal.  Read more
The Howard League had to issue a judicial review recently on behalf of someone I shall call ‘Michael’, a young deaf person in prison, to make sure he got the medical treatment and support he is entitled to.  Read more
Secure schools are the wrong answer to the wrong question
Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system is complete and is currently sitting on a desk in the Ministry of Justice. When it will be released is hard to say in the current political turmoil, but we are hopeful that it will be published in the next week or so.  Read more
Women’s centres and Transforming Rehabilitation
Last week the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, supported by the Howard League, held its AGM and heard from three women’s centres about what is happening to community sentences for women. It is a very depressing picture.  Read more
Visiting children’s homes
I recently visited four residential children’s homes in a city in the Midlands. I am obviously being cautious and not identifying either the place, the company running the homes, and, most importantly, the children.  Read more
Women on community sentences are being failed by the system
The last big change put in place by Chris Grayling still standing is the break up of the 100 year old successful probation service. The impact on women has been catastrophic and something needs to be done urgently to change the system to protect women.  Read more