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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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  • 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

  • 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 Child Sexual 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 …  Read more

  • 13 Mar 2019

    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

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