Bulletin, 14 January 2022

Friday, 14 January 2022

Text of the bulletin sent out to subscribers on 14 January 2022. If you don't receive them, you can sign-up here.

“Even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way”

The words of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in the House of Commons earlier this week, on his participation in the “Bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020.

The latest revelations have left the government and the Conservative Party in a deep crisis. Opinion polls show a slump in support. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have faced criticism for not investigating the various alleged parties, arguing that it does not investigate coronavirus breaches retrospectively.

Do the police risk undermining public confidence by failing to investigate? If they do investigate, do they risk getting sucked into a febrile situation that is more about politics than it is about policing?

The policing of partygate is just one of the topics that I and an expert panel will be discussing in the February edition of Last month in criminal justice.

I hope that you can join me.

Richard Garside


At the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies we currently broadcast two monthly Zoom programmes, exploring different aspects of the criminal justice system.

For our flagship Last month in criminal justice programme, on the first Wednesday of each month, an expert panel discusses key criminal justice developments from the previous month.

On our next programme on 2 February, Richard will be joined by Kate Coleman of Keep Prisons Single Sex, Rona Epstein of Coventy Law School, and the former Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, now at the University of Cambridge. Topics up for discussion include the latest developments in the Sarah Everard inquiry, the report into a still-birth at Styal women’s prison, recent parliamentary debates on the question of transgender prisoners, and the policing of partygate.

Last month in criminal justice is a great way of keeping up-to-date with what’s been going on in criminal justice. Book your place for the February programme today.

Our other monthly programme – Lunch with… – is an informal conversation with interesting and inspiring guests in the criminal justice field. On January 18 we will be having Lunch with Whitney Iles, Founder and Chief Executive of Project 507, which works to counter the cycles of trauma and violence that are all-too-present in today’s society.

Among other things, Whitney will be talking about her two-decades-worth of experience as a frontline practitioner working with young people and communities affected by violence, and what motivated her to set up Project 507.

Find out more, and book your place, here.

In February we will be having Lunch with two campaigners working to end the dreadful Imprisonment for Public Protection sentence: Donna Mooney and Shirley Debono.

For more information about all our forthcoming programmes, check out our events page.

Joint enterprise

In February, our head of programmes, Helen Mills will be sharing early findings from our current research on joint enterprise prosecutions at an upcoming event hosted by our friends at JENGbA.

A landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in 2016 found that joint enterprise law had been wrongly applied by the courts for some thirty years. Under joint enterprise rules, individuals can be convicted of acts committed by another person, based on their association with that other person.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, very few people have had their convictions overturned. JENGbA are pressing for a change to the law, to make it easier for those wrongly-convicted to appeal.

The online event to discuss these issues is taking place on Tuesday 1st February at 2pm.

There will be more information in the next bulletin. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Twitter feed and the JENGbA website.

Eye on criminal justice

Earlier this month, the Government published the terms of reference for Phase 1 of the Inquiry into the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. The Inquiry is being chaired by the Scottish lawyer Elish Angiolini.

Phase 1 of the Inquiry will examine the events leading up to and following Sarah Everard’s murder. Phase 2, not due to start for several months, will consider broader questions raised by her murder.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published its investigation into the birth of a stillborn baby, Brooke Leigh Powell, in Styal women’s prison in June 2020. The report follows an earlier investigation by the Ombudsman, into the death of a baby in Bronzefield prison in September 2019.

This latest report found failings in care for Brooke’s mother, Louise, and in the training of prison nurses, among other things. Writing, with Brooke’s mother Louise, on Russell Webster’s website, Lucy Baldwin argued that “We must continue to improve on the care and support for pregnant women in prison and for all mothers actually – but we must do this without losing sight of the ultimate goal, which would be wherever possible, no pregnant prisoners in prison at all”.

The House of Lords continues to consider various amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, including a long debate a few days ago on the challenging question of the housing of transgender prisoners. You can watch the debate here, and read the transcript here.

The Sarah Everard Inquiry, the stillbirth of Brooke Leigh Powell, the House of Lords debate, and, of course, partygate, will be among the topics discussed in the February edition of Last month in criminal justice.

Support our work

In 2021, we received twice as many small donations, averaging £15 per donation, compared with 2020. We are so appreciative of the support from all our donors and supporters.

Among the things we will be doing in the coming year are working to challenge the injustices of Imprisonment for Public Protection and of joint enterprise prosecutions. We will also be continuing to make the case for reform to short prison sentences, and for the development of a long-term plan to close down prisons. We will be publishing a major report on the UK justice systems in the coming months, and will be broadcasting various programmes to inform understanding of criminal justice. And that's just to begin with.

If you like what we do, and can afford to make a donation to support our important work, we would be very grateful.

You can also spread the word about our work by sharing this bulletin and encouraging others to sign up for our regular updates.