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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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  • 18 May 2017
    Reviewing the Manifestos: Liberal Democrats

    I am going to review each of the main party manifestos, starting with the Liberal Democrats. I welcome the fact the party manifesto clearly states that there are too many people in prison. This is an important and principled statement. However, there is no indication of how the party would really address and solve the problem. …  Read more

  • 15 May 2017

    Our lawyers speak to children and young people in prison, as well as their loved ones and professionals who work with them every day. More and more often, what we are told causes us concern that they have either been harmed or are at risk of being seriously harmed. This can include self-harm, harm by another …  Read more

  • 9 May 2017
    Healthcare in prisons

    The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published a report into the death of Daniel Adewole, a 16-year-old boy who died at Cookham Wood prison in July 2015. The report raised concerns about the procedures and staff responses at the prison, which only holds children. These replicated systems applied in adult prisons – for example, "a paediatric …  Read more

  • 3 May 2017
    Smoking in prisons

    More prisons are due to ban smoking over the summer. It is difficult to argue that anyone should continue smoking as we all know that it kills, and kills painfully and prematurely. However, smoking tobacco is a highly addictive habit that is incredibly difficult to kick and people need a great deal of help to stop …  Read more

  • 28 Apr 2017
    Scotland’s plan to reform (and reduce) women’s imprisonment

    Yesterday I wrote about our visit to Scotland. We went to explore three particular issues: Scotland’s plan to reform (and reduce) women’s imprisonment, the punishment system that does not include imposing additional days, and the new structure for independent monitors of prisons. Plans for women are, on the face of it, offering serious reform. On 23 April …  Read more

  • 27 Apr 2017
    Lessons from Scotland

    There is rarely much to applaud in the criminal justice system, so it was exhilarating to spend two days in Scotland hearing about good practice and principled leadership. We met with lots of key people and visited Edinburgh prison. Colin McConnell, CEO of the Scottish Prison Service, told us he saw it as a ‘citizen recovery service’. …  Read more

  • 19 Apr 2017
    The general election

    I am not pleased about the general election as it will be a bad thing for the justice system. Goodness knows, things could hardly get worse, but the election means that nothing will happen for weeks and then a new justice secretary will want to have a think. This means we will be in a state …  Read more

  • 13 Apr 2017
    How to reduce the death toll in prisons

    Yesterday I attended a roundtable meeting to discuss prison safety convened by the prisons minister, Sam Gyimah. It brought together the key experts in prison safety, from NHS to voluntary groups, from the Ministry of Justice officials to academics. The people missing were former prisoners or serving prisoners and staff. The stated purpose of the event …  Read more

  • 7 Apr 2017
    Liz Truss has inherited a mess. Be careful what you wish for

    The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, is coming under increasing pressure from the media and commentators. Some of it is personal. The question that needs answering is whether she is achieving all she can to reform the failing prison system and if not, why not. It is worth looking back at some of her …  Read more

  • 5 Apr 2017
    Wellingborough: A mega prison will create mega problems

    Today the local council in Wellingborough will consider an application from the Ministry of Justice to construct a mega-jail on the site of a much smaller prison that was closed five years ago. The proposed new prison will cost a minimum of £143million to construct and around £20million to £30million a year to run. It will …  Read more

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