Reflecting on the events of 2017 and looking ahead to 2018, our Director, Richard Garside, said:
2017 has been one of the busiest years for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. We have published more than 20 reports, briefings and journal editions. We have held more than 20 events. We have met with ministers and government officials and our work has been cited in parliament.
We have also made numerous interventions in the media, on issues ranging from levels of crime and victimisation, the state of criminal justice, the potential for meaningful reform, and the importance of developing social solutions to those problems all too often, and wrongly, treated as crime problems.
If 2017 has been a busy year for the Centre, that is because there has been much to be busy about.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, warned that far too many of our prisons are unsafe. Indeed, he concluded earlier this year that not a single establishment in England and Wales was safe to hold children and young people.
According to the Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, the fragmented probation service in England and Wales, created by the coalition government in 2014, faces deep-rooted problems that threaten the whole future of the service.
There is widespread concern in the legal professions about the erosion of legal aid, and about moves towards 'trial by skype', which ultimately could result in none of the parties – judges, legal representatives, defendants and witnesses – being physically present in the courtroom.
There is an ongoing debate about the future of the police, with opinions sharply divided on its appropriate size, scope and purpose.
There is also much to be concerned about in the operations of the justice system. This includes the ongoing injustice of joint enterprise convictions and indeterminate prison sentences; the systemic racism that continues to blight the system; the rising numbers of deaths and self-harm in custody.
In 2018, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies will continue to play an active role: informing the public debate on the key challenges facing the criminal justice system, and promoting social justice solutions to the problems society faces, so that many responses that criminalise and punish are no longer required.