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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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  • 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

  • 20 Aug 2018
    Birmingham prison and other failures of oversight

    G4S-run Birmingham prison is in the news today because it is failing catastrophically and this has prompted a public debate about the principle of private management of prisons. The Howard League for Penal Reform recently provided evidence concerning the state’s failure to monitor the practices of private companies in the criminal justice system for a high …  Read more

  • 17 Aug 2018
    Notes from an adjudication hearing

    It seems apposite today to post a guest blog about justice in prisons. The Ministry of Justice is making exorbitant claims about making ten of the worst-performing prisons into models for the rest to follow, and all in one year. At the beginning of the week we published a briefing paper showing that prisons are resorting …  Read more

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