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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Subversion, sabotage and spying: Political policing and state racism

At this two-day conference on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 April 2016, an impressive line-up of speakers will examine the role and impact of undercover policing and the surveillance of protest groups and 'suspect communities'.

Speakers include: Baroness Doreen Lawrence, John McDonnell MP, Michael Mansfield QC, Suresh Grover, Helen Steel, Paddy Hill, Stafford Scott, Deborah Coles, Imran Khan, Patrick Williams, Gareth Peirce, Baroness Jenny Jones, Will McMahon, Dave Smith, Tony Bunyan, Harriet Wistrich

View the programme and book now.



Fifth UK Justice Policy Review
This month we launched the fifth edition of the UK Justice Policy Review, our annual report tracking year-on-year developments in criminal justice across the UK. Authored by Richard Garside and Matt Ford, this edition covers the final year of coalition government and the transition to the new Conservative administration. It paints a picture of growing pressure on criminal justice agencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as they struggle to cope with five years of austerity-driven cuts. Scotland is a partial exception, where increased expenditure funded stable or rising staff numbers in the police, prison and probation services.

As part of our UK Justice Policy Review programme of activities, last year we published The coalition years, an assessment of criminal justice developments over the whole period of UK coalition government. It sought to explain why criminal justice developments unfolded in the way it did, rather than simply document what happened. The overarching findings of this report were endorsed by the Justice Minister for Northern Ireland, David Ford MLA, in a wide-ranging speech delivered this month. 

On the road with the Justice Matters toolkit
Our Senior Policy Associate, Rebecca Roberts, and Deputy Director, Will McMahon, attended the Howard League conference at the University of Oxford to talk about our Justice Matters initiative. They presented our prototype workshop toolkit which aims to encourage participants to think through short- and long-term solutions to a range of social harms and problems that do not rely on criminal justice interventions. If you would like to find out more about the workshop and the possibility of hosting one at your own organisation, then click here

The fantasy of prisons as places of reform
The Independent published a letter by our Director, Richard Garside, calling for an end to the unnecessary imprisonment of tens of thousands of fellow citizens. 

Are sentencers to blame for high prison numbers?
In her latest comment piece our Research Associate Helen Mills questions Michael Gove's understanding of what determines prison numbers. 

Death at the hands of the law
Richard Garside argues that criminalisation and criminal justice responses are often the cause of more harm than good.

Alternatives to Holloway?
Rebecca Roberts, Senior Policy Associate has written about the closure of Holloway prison, drawing on the Alternatives to Holloway pamphlet published in 1972. 

Our gang research cited in parliament
Our report on joint enterprise and gangs, published in January, was cited in a parliamentary debate by Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham. 

Would like to office mates
Looking for a new office? We have a self-contained and air conditioned office space for rent in Vauxhall with a heavily discounted rate for the use of our meeting room too. 

VACANCY: Administrator - maternity cover
We're currently recruiting for a part-time administrator to act as a first point of contact for the organisation and provide crucial support with a range of administrative tasks. 


Troubled Families: 'well sold' but 'morally compromised'
Stephen Crossley gives us more great insights from his research into the Troubled Families programme, including critical comments from frontline workers.

Michael Gove and the future of electronic monitoring
Mike Nellis gives his predictions about how electronic monitoring will develop in England and Wales in the future, and the role of probation services and penal reformers in shaping this development. 

The closing gap between education and youth justice 
Sarah Brooks-Wilson talks about the issues around school access for young people in youth justice.  

One worth supporting
Read Mike Guilfoyle's latest reflection on his time as a probation officer. 

2015 Radzinowicz Prize winners
The Editors of the British Journal of Criminology have announced the 2015 winners of the Radzinowicz Prize for the article that most contributes to the knowledge of criminal justice and criminal justice issues. Katja Franko Aas of the University of Oslo and Helene O. I. Gundhues of the Norwegian Police University College won the prize for their article about policing European Union Borders.


Armed Forces veterans under probation supervision
We're profiling services and support for Armed Forces personnel under probation supervision to understand how far their needs are being met. We're interested in provision by the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies and the third sector. We're holding three events in cities across the country where we'd like people who work in this area to share information about what the current picture of support looks like. The events will also be a chance for people to network. 

Briefing launch: 'Better regulation': Better for whom?
Professor Steve Tombs will present his new findings placing the spotlight on the lack of effective local government regulation of pollution, food safety and workplace health and safety standards in the UK. There will be a launch event in London on Tuesday 26 April, followed by a Liverpool event on Wednesday 27 April.

Responding to drug harms: Can the UK learn from Portugal?
On Monday, 16 May will discuss Portugal's health-led approach to drug harms. One of the architects of this system, João Goulão, will be joined by a number of UK-based speakers who have signalled an interest in moving away from our current over-reliance on criminalisation as a response to drug harms. They include: Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary; Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release; Kenny MacAskill MSP, former Scottish Justice Secretary; Baroness Meacher, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform.

Is violent crime increasing?
At our annual Eve Saville Lecture on 12 April, Professor Sylvia Walby will be discussing her ground-breaking research questioning official claims that violence has been declining in England and Wales since the mid-1990s. This event is now fully booked and we have a waiting list. If you have registered but are unable to attend, please notify us so we can release your place to someone else.


Privatising children's prisons
Hannah Pittaway of the Reclaim Justice Network wrote an article about how the privatisation of prisons seriously undermines the safety and care of vulnerable children detained in them.  


The Guardian covers our conference on police spying
Our forthcoming conference on police spying and state racism got some coverage in an article by Rob Evans in The Guardian.


1,605 - the current number of prisoners the largest prison in England and Wales, HMP Oakwood, is able to hold.
2,106 -  the number of prisoners it will be able to hold from July 2016.

Source: '500 more inmates at HMP Oakwood "superjail"', Express and Star


'Criminal justice agencies across the UK face a perfect storm of growing demand and shrinking budgets by the time of the next General Election. Governments in London, Edinburgh and Belfast should be setting out a vision for smaller, more focused justice systems, and embark on a managed reduction of demand on the key criminal justice agencies to reflect shrinking budgets'. Richard Garside speaking about the findings of our latest UK Justice Policy Review.

'I've been in some very dark places over that time and I thought the trial and giving evidence, having my say, would give me closure. But it didn’t. It put me back into the same dark places and I felt worse than I’ve ever felt before. This was because I still didn’t feel believed'. The girl targeted by the footballer Adam Johnson, speaking about the trial.

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This bulletin was compiled and edited by Matt Ford and Rebecca Roberts. We are always keen to hear from our readers. For comments and feedback email  

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