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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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  • 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

  • 13 Aug 2018
    One-size-fits-all punitive approaches in prison can have devastating consequences

    The Howard League has been working on the issue of punishment in prison. We are particularly concerned about the imposition of additional days of imprisonment when people break rules. The number of extra days added to people’s sentences as punishment has been rising dramatically and the tide shows no signs of abating. As part of our …  Read more

  • 30 Jul 2018
    Reinventing different ways of locking up children – a cautionary tale

    Feltham prison holds boys and young adults. It has a terrible history, and because it is on the outskirts of London and is one of the biggest child jails it has drawn more public attention than other prisons holding children, but its story is similar to many other institutions that hold children in trouble. It has …  Read more

  • 17 Jul 2018
    Funding cut for Circles UK will have far-reaching consequences for public protection

    A very important meeting is taking place in the Ministry of Justice today. The support grant to Circles UK has suddenly been cut – it was only £256,000. Circles UK oversees, and provides the framework for, more than 600 local volunteers working in groups across the country who support men convicted of sex offences when they …  Read more

  • 9 Jul 2018
    Notes from the cells in a city police station

    I like poking about in places of detention, meeting the front line staff and the people being detained. Not just prisons, but police stations and secure hospitals. I recently visited a main city police station with 60 purpose-built cells. The two custody sergeants took me through who happened to be there, mostly men for domestic or …  Read more

  • 26 Jun 2018
    Community Justice and the future of probation

    Forgive me but this blog will be a little longer than usual. We have been thinking a lot about the future of probation at the Howard League, given the train-wreck that was the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms introduced by Chris Grayling. The Justice Select Committee is the latest body to deliver a damning critique of what has …  Read more

  • 23 May 2018
    Notes from Dame Glenys Stacey’s evidence to the APPG on Women in the Penal System

    The Howard League supports the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System (APPG), which has launched its Inquiry into the Sentencing of Women. The APPG held an oral evidence session with Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, and what she said was really interesting. The minutes of the meeting will be …  Read more

  • 14 May 2018
    Prisoner voting

    The Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRC) of the Scottish Parliament, a cross-party group, has published a report on prisoner voting. It sets out the ethical and some of the practical issues and reviews the evidence it gathered from a wide range of respondents. It is a positive contribution to a difficult debate. My position is …  Read more

  • 11 May 2018
    Making a difference in prison

    I have visited seven prisons in the last few weeks and have seen some good things going on. These have included private and public sector, locals and long-termers and women’s prisons. These thoughts are not a comprehensive plan, nor do my visits in any way resemble inspections. But, I have been visiting prisons for 30 years …  Read more

  • 9 Apr 2018
    Brinsford – the story of just one prison

    “Emergency intervention to sort out failing prison!” The headline I have seen, or a version of it, year after year. I will tell the story of just one prison. Brinsford is a medium sized prison near Wolverhampton and holds around 500 young men, mostly between the ages of 18 to 21. It is not famous, nor …  Read more

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