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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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  • 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

  • 9 Nov 2018
    We should not be criminalising everything

    I agree with both chief constable Sara Thornton and Sue Fish, former chief constable. Last week, Sara Thornton spoke to police chiefs about resources and said that they should be concentrating on serious crime and not recording complaints about misogyny. When asked to respond, Sue Fish said that her former force, Nottinghamshire, had pioneered recording complaints about …  Read more

  • 2 Nov 2018
    One last restructuring that probation staff would welcome

    The Chief Inspector of Probation has just published the first in a series of inspections she is carrying out on the National Probation Service. The South West South Central division of the National Probation Service, supervising almost 13,000 people from Berkshire to Cornwall, was found by inspectors to be performing to a good standard overall and …  Read more

  • 12 Oct 2018
    The rising number of people dying in prison by unexplained causes

    We get notifications when people die in prisons. Over the years we have monitored the number of people dying by suicide, through natural causes and due to homicide. In the last three years the number of deaths that appear to be unexplained has soared, and I think there is something quite different happening inside prisons …  Read more

  • 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

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