Conference examines justice developments across the UK

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Since 2010, our UK Justice Policy Review (UKJPR) programme has been assessing criminal justice developments across the UK.

Earlier this week we published our latest UKJPR report, covering developments between the 2015 General Election and the June 2016 Brexit referendum. Yesterday our latest UKJPR annual conference – Criminal justice since Brexit – heard from 15 speakers from across the UK.

L to R: Harvey Redgrave, Chris Marshall, Danny Shaw, Allison Morris

The event was kicked off with a fascinating discussion, chaired by the BBC home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, reviewing the main issues across the UK. Allison Morris from The Irish News in Belfast explained the context for the recent Conservative-DUP parliamentary pact and its implications for power-sharing and criminal justice policy in Northern Ireland.

Chris Marshall from The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh talked about the problems besetting Police Scotland and the SNP's criminal justice programme. Harvey Redgrave from Crest Advisory discussed the sense of crisis pervading criminal justice institutions across England and Wales.

The next session considered work being done to challenge a number of significant injustices associated with the criminal justice system. Carson Arthur of StopWatch highlighted the ongoing problem of black and brown young men being targetted by police stop and search practices. Gloria Morrison of JENGbA spoke about the ongoing injustice of innocent people getting long prison sentences under 'joint enterprise' provisions.

Goretti Horgan from the University of Ulster discussed the campaign to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. Rebecca Roberts of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies talked about work to ensure that local residents around the closed Holloway prison site have a say in the site's redevelopment.

After lunch, the conference heard from Savas Hadjipavlou, on his innovative work harnessing big data analytics to model the impact of various policies on the prison population and other parts of the justice process.

The final session of the day discussed some of the big future challenges facing the justice system and society more generally. Suresh Grover of The Monitoring Group talked about the long fight against racial violence and the work still to be done. Kate Paradine of Women in Prison discussed the opportunity to downsize the prison system and develop more effective practice.

Danny Kushlick of Transform argued that the reform of the UK's drug laws was an urgent, and achieveable, task. Sarah Lamble of Birkbeck, University of London, discussed the challenge of developing transformative approaches to a variety of social harms: ones that reject criminalisation and punishment in favour of approaches that address the underlying causes.