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Howard League Blog

Informal comment from our Chief Executive, Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), and other contributors.

  • 23 Jul 2024
    What to do about probation?

    We have heard a lot about prison overcrowding over recent weeks, not least because of the Howard League’s own efforts, but there is overcrowding in probation too. And that matters, because the probation service is going to be asked to do more in the future.  Read more

  • 4 Jun 2024
    IPP reform in the Victims and Prisoners Act

    The announcement that there will be a general election on 4 July kickstarted a legislative ‘wash up’ process to deal with some of the laws being debated, before Parliament was dissolved. Some Bills were hurried through, but most ran out of time and were dropped.  One law that did receive Royal Assent was the Victims and Prisoners Act, which – among other reforms – contains measures around people in prison and particularly those serving IPP sentences who are in the community or on licence.   Read more

  • 23 May 2024
    Rats, flies and crumbling walls: The physical state of prisons is getting worse

    The Independent Monitoring Boards’ (IMBs) annual report, published yesterday, provides yet more evidence that the physical state of our prisons is getting worse.  Read more

  • 13 May 2024
    Mental Health Awareness Week: Mental Health in Prison

    As we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, we are reminded of the growing recognition of mental illness in our society. Unfortunately, this awareness has not translated into meaningful action for those behind bars, with nine out of ten people in prison suffering from at least one mental health problem.   Years ago, before I joined the Howard …  Read more

  • 23 Apr 2024
    What IMBs tell us about prison today: Spring 2024 update

    As we reflect on the first quarter of 2024, we turn again to the relentless endeavours of Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) in revealing the realities of life inside prison.   Read more

  • 12 Apr 2024
    Don’t let PAVA spray be used on children

    Today the Howard League launches a new campaign. We understand that the government is preparing to authorise the use of PAVA spray on children in prison. We are preparing to take whatever steps necessary to challenge it, including potential legal action – and we need your support.  Read more

  • 11 Apr 2024
    The segregation unit in Bedford prison

    The segregation unit in Bedford prison is one of the darkest corners of the criminal justice system. When inspectors visited in October and November 2023, they found two underground landings, one of which was so flooded with sewage after periods of heavy rain that staff kept sandbags to help stem the tide. Cells were damp, with broken furniture and stained toilets, and some smelt of human effluent.  Read more

  • 27 Mar 2024
    It is good that boys are being moved out of Cookham Wood. But we should not stop there.

    Last week, the government announced that Cookham Wood, a prison in Kent for boys aged 15 to 18, will close and be repurposed to accommodate adults. The Ministry of Justice said that the prison could be holding men as early as the summer, while options are being reviewed for its longer-term use. The children will be transferred to other sites.    Read more

  • 15 Mar 2024
    For too long, girls have been an afterthought in a failing criminal justice system

    The Howard League has been extremely busy in the fallout from last week’s distressing inspection report on Wetherby, a prison in West Yorkshire that can hold boys and girls as young as 15. I would like to thank everyone who has signed our petition calling for girls to be moved out of this prison.  Read more

  • 11 Mar 2024
    It’s time for a grown-up debate about prison overcrowding

    Today’s edition of The Times reports that the Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, has warned the Prime Minister that the prison system could run out of space this month. For several years now, it has been obvious to any informed observers that the government was heading towards the precipice of a prison overcrowding crisis. …  Read more

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