Our November 2015 ebulletin is out now!

Monday, 30 November 2015


Time for bold action to downsize criminal justice
In the face of ongoing discussions about criminal justice budgets and staffing, the Centre's Director, Richard Garside, criticised the unquestioning defence of police budgets, arguing that it makes it harder to address the many real social problems British society faces. The opportunity remains to develop a bold, visionary and coherent vision for how these challenges can be properly dealt with. Richard argues in favour of a reconfiguration of criminal justice and public services. Read the full article here. In advance of the spending review, David Walker, writing in The Guardian drew on our thinking and highlighted the need for 'longer-term, strategic analysis'.

Our Senior Research Associate Rebecca Roberts attended Defend the Right to Protest's annual conference. She presented a paper on criminal justice in times of austerity, outlining key trends before discussing the current challenges presented by austerity in both the criminal justice system and wider society. 

Prison building programme 'short-sighted and contradictory'
In the wake of the announcement of a prison building programme, Richard Garside has warned that if Michael Gove really wants to see fewer people in prison, we need to take capacity out of the system rather than replace old prisons with new ones.

Troubled social policies
We published The Troubled Families Programme: the perfect social policy?. Authored by Stephen Crossley, the report questions government claims that the programme has achieved an almost 100 per cent success rate. Jonathan Portes of the National Institute of Social and Economic Research described the programme as 'appalling' and 'irresponsible' in The Guardian's coverage. Read the report and view the media coverage here.

Is criminal justice reform obsolete?
We were pleased to host an academic roundtable in collaboration with the Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative of The Open University. Dr Bree Carlton (Monash University, Australia) and Dr Erica Meiners (Northeastern Illinois University, USA) spoke about the relationships between reform, decarceration and the longer term goals of achieving structural change and ending the use of imprisonment and criminal justice. We also heard from respondents; Dr Deborah Drake (The Open University), Dr Sarah Lamble (Birkbeck University), Andrew Neilson (The Howard League) and Professor Joe Sim (Liverpool John Moores University). You can now watch Bree and Erica's presentations.

Criminalising young people with clinical disorders
On 13 November we held an event about the disproportionate numbers of young people with neurodevelopmental impairments and clinical disorders, and discussed how we can better identify and respond to these conditions to avoid criminalisation. Click here to view presentations by Dr Nathan Hughes (University of Birmingham) and Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan (University of Manchester). The report, Supporting young people with neurodevelopmental impairment, written by Dr Nathan Hughes and Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan will be published on Monday 7 December. 

Standing up to the state and corporations 
This month we published a resource for academics and activists offering important insights about how to better hold institutions to account. The report brings together edited transcripts of speeches made at our June conference, 'Challenging state and corporate impunity: is accountability possible?' and includes contributions from Professor David Whyte, Suresh Grover, Tony Bunyan, Dr Sarah Lamble, Deborah Hargreaves and Ewa Jasiewicz.

Breaking the silence
We have launched a new blog series, 'Breaking the silence: women in criminal justice'. Through short online articles, we are providing a space for women's voices to be heard. Madeline Petrillo, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, will tell their stories, using their own words wherever possible. In the first in the series, Madeline tells Lynne's story of tragedy, hope and resilience. Later this week, Rosie's story will be available online.

In other news...
We appeared on Sunday Politics South West discussing police cuts and were quoted in The Economist discussing examples of Scotland's 'progressive' prison policy.

Community sentences since 2000
Catherine Heard discusses our recent report on alternatives to custody in an article for Probation Quarterly.  Catherine asks whether community sentences can cut prisoner numbers, and offers a set of guiding principles for the use of alternatives.


I would build...
We received two inspiring contributions to the Justice Matters 'I would build...' comment series.  Lauren White, an organiser with Sisters Uncut, tells us how she would build a society in which all women are safe from male violence. She highlights the urgent need for well-funded refuges and specialist services and describes the building blocks for a safer society. Whitney Iles, CEO of Project 507, shares a heartening piece about fostering society's capacity to think with compassion, love and understanding.

Youth poverty and crime
Ross Fergusson, Senior Lecturer at The Open University, wrote a comment piece for us arguing that crime among young people is falling and that there is no clear evidence to suggest poverty is a driver of law-breaking. 

Responding to violence
The latest issue of the British Journal of Criminology is now available online (subscription only). Articles in this issue explore a wide range of responses to different forms of violence.

Bridging the gap 
John Croft, reflecting on his time as head of the Home Office research unit, discusses the problematic relationship between research, policy and practice, and suggests establishing an independent research clearing house to help bridge the gap.

A sad outcome
Mike Guilfoyle this month gives a very sad reflection from his time as a probation officer.


Alternatives to criminal justice: building social justice solutions
Join us for this workshop on Tuesday,19 January to discuss the available ways of preventing, reducing and repairing harm that look beyond criminal justice, not relying on punishment and exclusion.

The health of prison staff: what does the evidence tell us?
Join us for this event on Tuesday,1 March where we'll be discussing the origins of high stress levels and low well-being experienced by prison staff.


85 per cent of child sexual abuse goes undetected
A report into child sexual abuse in the family network, published by the Children's Commissioner this month, estimates that as many as 450,000 children were sexually abused in the two years to March 2014, but only 50,000 cases were recorded by the police. It also revealed that two-thirds of child sexual abuse takes place within the family or it's trusted circle, and that girls are much more likely to be abused. Read more here.

What should the police be doing?
Under the pressure of cuts, people are starting to think about what the police should really be doing. Polly Toynbee, writing in The Guardian, highlights how the police 'sweep up' after cuts to health and social care, and have to increasingly deal with things like people in mental health crises. Two senior police officers, in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee's investigation into police funding, both drew attention to this mission creep and the increase in non-crime workload. Read more here.


450,000 - the estimated number of children who were sexually abused in the two years to March 2014, according to a new report by the Children's Commissioner.

43,900 - the number of preventable winter deaths in England and Wales in 2014/2015, according to a BBC report on Office for National Statistics' figures.


'I believe you can change your day around; from negative to positive. You can turn things around. I can't go through what I've been through again. It's got me nowhere. It's got me in here. I've wanted to find myself for a long time. Now I'm finding peace with myself. I've had so many ups and downs. I've made so many wrong decisions. Doing this is making me look at myself and learn about myself. I'm actually finding who I am. I'm liking what I'm seeing sometimes.' Part of Lynne's story in our Breaking the silence series.


Take a look at this cartoon from illustrator, @skyratpost, about the government's prison building 'revolution':

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