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Submission to the Labour Policy Forum consultation

15 March 2023

“The way to ensure safe and secure communities is to tackle the causes of crime and reoffending through preventative forms of community justice, improving rehabilitation within the prison community, and not seek solutions to social problems solely through the penal system.

“Short prison sentences are counter-productive and much less effective than community sentences at reducing crime.

“The criminal justice system is facing unsustainable pressures, with the prison population expected to increase by over 26 per cent within the next five years. A Royal Commission should be established, so that sentence inflation can be tackled to support recovery and build a better system.

“Effective probation services are run in very different ways from prisons and should be independent, with visible leadership in the community.

“Over the last two decades, the vision for the justice system has been maximalist and expansionist. Yet staffing levels are at crisis point and prisons across the estate are overcrowded as a result.

“An effective approach to justice must prioritise improving the state of prisons so that they are safe and offer positive regimes which are more likely to protect the public, and not exacerbate the underlying causes of crime.

“The prison system faces severe resource shortages, which need to be urgently addressed with a view to improving pastoral care and mental health provision in particular.

“The public widely believe that poor mental health should be provided with adequate support, and not dealt with through the criminal justice system.

“Open prisons are overlooked as a vital component of the journey to rehabilitation and as a powerful tool in preventing reoffending.

“Women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately impacted by the current failings of the criminal justice system.”

Read the full submission

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