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2 Dec 2019

Media statement

The following statement is from Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform:

The Howard League for Penal Reform extends its deepest sympathies to the families of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones.

The incident that began in Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday was horrific.

Much of the debate since has been distorted by the fact we are in the run-up to a general election.

It is right that there should be a full investigation into what happened. Any such investigation should consider systemic issues and not simply sentencing policy or the decisions of individuals.

Prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded and face record levels of violence and human misery. The probation service also faces well-documented problems. For years the Howard League has warned that such pressure is unsustainable.

How should we move forward? The answer does not lie in writing people off. The focus must be on safely fostering our human potential for change. It lies in a criminal justice system – and a wider response from other public agencies – that looks to solve problems rather than making them worse. Whoever forms the next government should make this a national priority.

The Howard League for Penal Reform will be making no further comment at this time.

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