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21 May 2019

Howard League responds to report on extended probation for short-term prisoners

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation’s report on post-release supervision for short-term prisoners, published today (Tuesday 21 May).

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Chris Grayling’s decision to extend post-release supervision and place it in the hands of private companies has ended in failure, as the Howard League and others warned it would.

“It has not made the public any safer, but it has trapped tens of thousands of people in the criminal justice system for even longer than necessary. This has blighted lives and put an intolerable strain on prisons, and it should be abandoned immediately.

“Today’s report only strengthens the case for even wider reform of probation than the government has planned. There is real support among people working in probation for the solution that the Howard League has suggested: the proper unification of the service within the public sector; local delivery; integration with health, housing and other such services; and national strategic leadership and accountability.

“The government’s blueprint is a step in the right direction, but the regional structure proposed may prove unwieldy and clinging to private sector delivery of something like unpaid work risks embedding failure. After all the chaos of the last few years, it is vital that ministers get this right.”

The Howard League submitted proposals for a Community Justice system – which would involve a national strategic focus combined with local service delivery – to the Ministry of Justice in September last year, as part of the ministry’s consultation on strengthening probation.

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Howard League’s response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the future of probation can be downloaded from the charity’s website.
  3. In a blogpost published in February, Frances Crook suggested some principles that should be agreed when considering how to improve probation. The blogpost can be read on the Howard League website.
  4. The report, Post-release supervision for short-term prisoners: the work undertaken by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), can be read on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website from Tuesday 21 May 2019.


Rob Preece
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