eBulletin, 25 March 2022

Monday, 28 March 2022

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A few weeks ago I asked how we might escape the monotony of repeated policy failure, and instead do something genuinely new and transformative.

So many policies in the field of crime and criminal justice seem to be little more than repetitions of failed policies of the past. Is it even possible to develop coherent and credible alternatives to the monotonous circularity of current approaches?

We've had some great responses to my short article exploring these questions, and we've published two responses on our website. Ann Horton, part of UNGRIPP, which is campaigning for reform to the dreadful Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, reminds us of the value of both visionaries and pragmatists. “We need to come up with well-researched and believable alternatives and pathways to the justice system we have at present”, she writes, “or to the particular aspect of it we are fighting to reform, even if at the moment those in power are not interested in listening”.

In his response, Andrew Coyle, former prison govenor and one of our former chair of trustees, makes the case for the redeployment of resources from criminal justice agencies to social investment. This so-called ‘justice reinvestment’ approach involves “assessing the total resources... that are expended on the criminal justice system; evaluating what benefit members of the public and taxpayers get from this expenditure; and considering whether there might be other ways of distributing these considerable resources at local levels to provide a better return on this substantial public investment”.

You can read Ann's, Andrew's and my original piece here.

I am grateful for Ann and Andrew for taking the time to write their interesting pieces. We're hoping to publish additional responses in the coming weeks. If you would like to offer a response, please do get in touch.

Richard Garside

Coming up

Next month we will be publishing new research on the failure to reform meaningfully the approach to joint enterprise prosecutions, despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that the rules around joint enterprise had been wrongly interpreted for more than three decades.

The research, which we conducted in partnership with our friends at JENGbA (Joint Enteprise Not Guilty by Association) is previewed in the current issue of Private Eye. You can read all about it here. You can also support independent investigative journalism by buying a copy of Private Eye, or taking out a subscription.

We currently run two regular monthly webinar programmes:

  • Last month in criminal justice: our panel discussion on the first Wednesday of each month, looking at all the key criminal justice developments over the previous month.
  • Lunch with...: our mid-month conversation with interesting and inspiring campaigners, practitioners and thinkers.

For our next Last month in criminal justice, on Wednesday, 6 April, our director Richard Garside will be joined by Indy Cross, Chief Executive of Agenda, the alliance for women, by prisons expert Rob Allen, and by the Director of the Police Foundation, Rick Muir. Items up for discussion include:

  • The strip-searching by the police of a fifteen-year-old girl, Child Q, in a London school
  • Should the prison inspectorate stop making recommendations for improvement?
  • Why are defendants being held for so long on remand in prison, awaiting trial?
  • Are girls who have suffered abuse and violence being retraumatised by contact with the youth justice system?
  • What does planned strike action by criminal barristers tells us about the state of the legal aid and defendants' rights to legal representation?
  • Is it time for fundamental reform of the police?

For our next Lunch with… programme, on Wednesday 20 April, we'll be joined by Charlie Weinberg of Safe Ground, a specialist organisation running arts-based therapeutic programmes in prisons. Prior to joining Safe Ground, Charlie had variously been a youth worker, a drugs counsellor, a community arts activist, a film producer and a script writer on an award-winning soap opera in Nicaragua: Sexto Sentido. Charlie and Richard will be discussing her career trajectory, the work of Safe Ground, and what transformative practice looks like.

Coming up in June: Our Lunch with... Khatuna Tsinsadze, postponed from late last year, will now take place on Wednesday, 22 June. Khatuna is the co-director of the Zahid Mubarek Trust, founded by the family of 19-year-old Zahid Mubarek, who was murdered by his racist cellmate on the morning of his release from Feltham Young Offender Institution.

You can find out more about all our current programmes and events, and book your place, on our events page.

Stop press: We're delighted to announce that the US scholar and activist, Alex Vitale, will be joining us for the May edition of Lunch with... on Wednesday, 18 May at 12.30 pm (London time). Alex is the author of the bestselling The End of Policing, and works tirelessly in the US and beyond with communities working to develop alternatives to policing and criminalisation.

We'll formally be announcing our Lunch with... Alex Vitale in the next few weeks. In the meantime, as a subscriber to this Bulletin, you can pre-book your place here.


This month, we had Lunch with... Jan Cunliffe and Gloria Morrison of JENGbA. If you missed the programme, or want to revisit it, you can catch-up with it here.

Also this month, on the the March edition of Last month in criminal justice, Richard was joined by Charlotte Henry of JENGbA, Whitney Iles of Project 507, and our colleague Roger Grimshaw, to discuss, among other things, crisis in the police, joint enterprise convictions, and whether misogyny should be a hate crime. Catch-up with the full programme here.

Commentary and analysis

TV licence non-payment is the most common offence for which women are convicted, accounting for a staggering 30 per cent of all convictions against women in 2019. Charlotte Threipland of APPEAL writes about their campaign to decriminalise non-payment.

Check out also this article by the 'Is it a crime to be poor?' network (of which we are a founding member) on the decriminalisation of TV licence and council tax non-payment. It was one of the most popular articles on our website this month.

From the archive: Our research director Roger Grimshaw on institutional racism in the police, another popular article on our website this month.

Also from the archive: Jo Phoenix makes the case for the abolition of women's imprisonment, as part of a “truly ambitious experiment in rebuilding the lives of women whose histories have been blighted by the aggregate effects of poverty, of racism, of male violence”.

Eye on criminal justice

The far-reaching Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales, launched by the Police Foundation in 2019, published its final report earlier this month. Root and branch reform was required, the report stated, to address the crisis of public confidence in the police. Among its other recommendations was a new licence to practice for all police officers, and the merger of back office functions to save hundreds of millions of pounds.

A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO), out today, concludes that the government is on track to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers. But it points out that the Home Office is yet to work out how to evaluate the impact of additional officers. The Home Office also “acknowledges its evidence base is weak and highly sensitive to what appear to be optimistic assumptions based on limited evidence”, the NAO notes. Earlier this month, the outgoing Chief Inspector of Police (and fire and rescue services), Sir Tom Winsor, warned that, in its rush to recruit new officers, the Home Office was at risk of recruiting misogynists and racists.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee cleared the way for the former chief constable of Liverpool, Andy Cooke, to be appointed the new Chief Inspector of Police, concluding that he had the “professional competence and personal independence”. During his confirmation hearing, Cooke bemoaned “all the chatter about racist policing”, which he said made it difficult to recruit a diverse workforce.

The Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, called for the Headteacher of the school where a 15-year-old black girl was strip searched by the police to resign, stating that the “school leadership has lost the confidence of the school, myself and the community”. The local police commander, Detective Chief Superintendant Marcus Barnett, also faced resignation calls. The school “probably should not have called us and we should probably have understood very quickly that we had no role to play there”, he said. The girl, referred to as ‘Child Q’ in the safeguarding review, was so traumatised by the incident that she was left wanting “to scream, shout, cry or just give up” every day. The incident sparked protests across Hackney.

The Metropolitan Police has announced that it will be appealing a high court ruling that it had breached the rights of the organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard. “It’s important for policing and the public that we have absolute clarity of what’s expected of us in law,” the Met stated. “This is why we feel we must seek permission to appeal the judgment in order to resolve what’s required by law when policing protests and events in the future in their handling of the event”. Meanwhile, writing in The Guardian, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, called for “practical, firm, progressive, visible action” to address problems of racism and misogyny in the police.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services has concluded that the Metropolitan Police’s approach to dealing with corruption in its ranks is “not fit for purpose”. The Met, it stated, “had not learned all the lessons from its failed investigation into the 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, which was hampered by police corruption”.

Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Debbie Abraham MP, co-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on women in the penal system, described as “unacceptable" reports that three girls had been held for months in a male young offenders institution, following the closure of Rainsbrook secure training centre. According to an inspectorate report on Wetherby male Young Offender Institution, the closure of Rainsbrook, and “the refusal of some secure children’s homes to accept girls with more complex needs” resulted in their being placed in Wetherby.

We’ll be discussing these, and other developments, in the April edition of Last month in criminal justice.

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