In October 2013 the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies made a submission to the House of Commons Justice Committee Inquiry into crime reduction policies.
Following its publication today by the Justice Committee we are also publishing the submission here.
The submission argued that the question of the rates of harm and victimisation in society and the question of the size, scope, reach and operation of the different parts of the criminal justice system need to be separated. The criminal justice system has far less of an impact on crime and victimisation rates than is often claimed.
There was considerable scope for a reduction in criminal justice spending, if this reduction is complemented by a comparable reduction in the size and scope of the criminal justice agencies affected. There was also significant research evidence indicating that levels of victimisation are related to underlying social arrangements, rather than to the interventions of criminal justice agencies.
On the impact of prisons, the police and other criminal justice agencies on the crime rate, the submissions points out:
'[E]vidence for the effect of criminal justice interventions on official crime rates is poor. A review of international evidence explaining falls in official crime rates by Graham Farrell and colleagues was published in 2010. They found no evidence that rates of imprisonment, police numbers or policing strategies could explain falls in crime, apart from some partial effects in the United States. To achieve this, the United States has relied on policies of hyperincarceration and aggressive policing strategies disproportionately targeting black people and the most economically disadvantaged.'
The submission drew on the Centre's recent work, including:
- Welfare and punishment. The relationship between welfare spending and imprisonment (November 2007)
- Criminal obsessions: Why harm matters more than crime (October 2008)
- Young people, knives and guns (September 2009)
- Police expenditure, 1999-2009 (May 2010)
- Prison and probation expenditure, 1999-2009 (July 2010)
- Magistrates' courts' and Crown Court expenditure, 1999-2009 (September 2010)
- Reducing the numbers in custody: looking beyond criminal justice solutions (January 2012)
The submission can be downloaded from the link above. It can also be accessed via the Justice Committee pages.