Clinks’ criminal justice policy update



This month, in partnership with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Third Sector Research Centre, Clinks has launched the most recent Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) survey. We aim to reach the largest possible number of voluntary sector organisations involved either directly in, or indirectly affected by, TR both in our prisons and in the community. The information from these surveys allows us to understand the voluntary sector’s role in and experiences of probation reforms and to present this information to the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service. The survey is open until 31st March 2017, you can complete the survey here.

Clinks also held a series of events to consult with members on HM Prison Inspectorate’s expectations for adult male prisons. We will use the feedback from these events to respond to the HM Inspectorate of Prisons consultation on their draft expectations. You can respond to their consultation online until 17th February 2017.

In consultation with members, Clinks responded to the joint Department for Work and Pensions’ and Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on funding for supported housing and the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry into inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities. These responses will be published on our website in the coming weeks.

Over the past two months the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3), which Clinks provides the secretariat for, has been exploring with members the particular challenges facing organisations providing women’s services and through the gate mentoring. Further updates will be provided in due course.

Justice Secretary launches new prison and probation service to reform offenders The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has announced that the National Offender Management Service will be replaced by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The new body for the operational management of offenders in custody and the community, including strengthening security in prisons, tackling extremism and building intelligence about criminal gangs. The Ministry of Justice will take charge of commissioning services, future policy development and be accountable for setting standards and scrutinising prison and probation performance. Russell Webster has written a blog summarising the announcement and providing some more detail on the planned changes.

Justice Committee evidence session: Prison reform (Governor empowerment and prison performance) On 31st January, the Justice Select Committee held an oral evidence session to examine potential developments in the monitoring of prison performance. The witnesses discussed a range of issues on the topic of monitoring and accountability for prisons, including the work of the Independent Monitoring Board, the importance of leadership at a local and national level, the possibility of HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman reporting directly to parliament and the proposal of league tables for prisons.

Policing and Crime Act This Act received Royal Assent on 31st January 2017 and aims to build capability, improve efficiency, increase public confidence and further enhance local accountability. The Act prevents the detention in police cells of children who are experiencing a mental health crisis (and restricts circumstances where adults can be taken to police stations) by reforming police powers under sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. It also places a duty on police, fire and ambulance services to work together and enables police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services where a local case is made.

Criminal Justice System

Reframing crime and justice – a handy guide This guide, published by Transforming Justice, summarises key findings of recent research undertaken by the Frameworks Institute on effective communication about crime and justice. It outlines key beliefs about criminal justice in Britain and provides guidance on which beliefs are helpful to draw upon and which should be avoided in order to encourage support for rehabilitative initiatives. The guide advises users to use stories to explain why issues matter and what can be done about them, use plain English instead of sector-based jargon and to hook people into the issue using values that will resonate with them.  

Proven Reoffending Statistics Quarterly Bulletin, April 2014 to March 2015 The Ministry of Justice has published its latest statistics on reoffending for adult and juvenile offenders who were released from custody, received a non-custodial conviction at court, or received a caution in the period April 2014 to March 2015. The statistics show that the overall reoffending rate (the rate for all those released from custody, those who received a non-custodial sentence at court or received a reprimand or warning in the period April 2014 – March 2015) has decreased by 0.9%, the reoffending rate for adults released from custody has decreased by 1.1%, while the overall reoffending rate for juveniles has increased by 4.3%. The overall reoffending rate for was 25.3%, jumping to 44.7% for adults released from custody.

Profile of provision for armed forces veterans under probation supervision This report was published by the Probation Institute, Forces in Mind Trust and Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. It looks at the state of services for veterans under probation supervision in England and Wales, following the 2014 Phillips Review of ex-armed forces personnel in the criminal justice system. The report concludes that the development of services for veterans remains patchy and suggests that planning for improved and extended services for veterans must include a strategic vision that combines research and development with a plan for funding services and support.

Transgender people

Learning lessons bulletin: Transgender prisoners This Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report looks at the cases of five transgender women who died in prison since 2008. The report’s findings include that there is insufficient flexibility within the prison system to accommodate the needs of transgender prisoners to live in their chosen gender and that transgender prisoners are at a higher risk of sexual assault by other prisoners. It lists six recommendations, including that the location of transgender prisoners must allow them to live safely in their chosen gender and that allegations of transphobic bullying and harassment should be meaningfully investigated. The government’s review into the care and management of transgender offenders was published in November 2016; Clinks will publish a briefing on this in spring 2017.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic people

Overlooked and Overrepresented: Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children in the youth justice system This Traveller Movement report analyses the perceptions of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) children of their experiences in youth custody. GTR children in Secure Training Centres were more likely that other children to report unmet health needs and feeling unsafe at some point during their stay. These children also found it significantly more difficult to maintain family contact. In Youth Offender Institutions, 25% of GTR boys considered themselves disabled, over half reported that they had been victimised by other young people in the institution, and a third had been in local authority care. The report makes two recommendations, stating that the Youth Justice Board should urgently introduce the 18+1 ethnic monitoring system across the youth justice system to ensure GTR children are identified and that a formal inquiry should be launched into the overrepresentation of GTR children in the youth justice system.

Youth justice

Youth Justice Statistics 2015/16 England and Wales The Youth Justice Board have published their annual statistics on the youth justice system or 2015-16. The statistics show that arrests of children have fallen by 7%, the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system has fallen (by 12%), as have the numbers of children given cautions (or court convictions (by 13%) and sentenced to immediate custody (by 9%). Despite continuing decreases in the numbers of children in custody, disproportionate representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children remains high, with 41% of the youth custody population from a BAME background. In custody, incidents such as self-harm and assaults have increased when compared with the previous year.

Government Response to the Justice Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2016–17: The treatment of young adults in the criminal justice system In October 2016, the Justice Committee published a report on the treatment of young adults in the criminal justice system which recommended a distinct approach within the system to young adults up to the age of 25. Though the government response overall recognises the need to understand young adults as a distinct group with varying levels of maturity, it rejects recommendations to include ‘young adult’ as a developmental stage in legislation and to increase the age limit of those defined as young adults for sentencing purposes from 21 to 25. The response outlines action the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service are taking to address the distinct needs of young adults, including making improvements to the process of transition from the youth to the adult estate, and accounting for maturity in accredited programmes in custody and the community.

Social Media as a Catalyst and Trigger for Youth Violence Published by Catch22 in partnership with University College Birmingham, this report examines the relationship between youth violence and social media. Its key findings highlight issues around social pressures generated by online content to protect perceived reputation or status and the increased vulnerability of girls and young women to attacks after appearing in online content. The report identifies three areas for action to address the role of social media in youth violence: prevention, intervention and suppression. Recommendations in these areas include, more training and information for professionals working with young people, the revisiting of existing legislative guidance regulating the powers of public bodies to monitor online content and efficient procedures developed by social media providers to remove content deemed inappropriate.

Mental health

Preventing suicide in England: Third progress report of the cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives Published by the Department of Health, this report provides an update on the progress of the 2012 National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which aimed to reduce the national suicide rate by 10 per cent by 2020/21 and identified people in contact with the criminal justice system as a high risk group. The report outlines a number of methods implemented to reduce the risk of suicide for vulnerable people across the criminal justice system. These include: work led by the Department of Health which more than halved the number of people detained in a police cell under sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983; investment of £15 million to increase the number of hospital based places of safety; and the creation of a core set of quality indicators and standards to provide a consistent measure of the quality of commissioned services in secure settings.


Rebalancing Act: A resource for Directors of Public Health, Police and Crime Commissioners and other health and justice commissioners, service providers and users This resource, published by Revolving Doors Agency (RDA) with support from the Home Office and Department of Health builds on RDA’s 2013 report Balancing Act, which suggested actions Directors of Public Health could take to address health inequalities for people in the criminal justice system. It makes the case for investment in services to address these inequalities and puts forward suggestions for good practice in joining up services and providing an evidence-based localised response.


Turning Pages, Changing Lives: An Evaluation of the Shannon Trust Reading Programme Turning Pages Researchers at Birmingham City University have undertaken this evaluation of Shannon Trust’s programme Turning Pages, a phonics-based reading programme for people in prison. The report found improvements in reading ability and confidence for Turning Pages learners and highlighted that the informal mentoring approach is highly valued by both learners and mentors. Researchers also found that after six months, learners were reading more to participate in prison regime and social engagement. The report’s recommendations include: the programme continues to remain separate from formal education within the prison; the prison service and National Offender Management Service should promote awareness of Turning Pages across all prison staff and prospective learners; and Turning Pages sessions are embedded into the prison regime and other educational sessions.

Community Chaplaincy and the desistance journey In this Clinks guest blog, Matt Wall, National Secretary of the Community Chaplaincy Association and Jane Dominey, Research Associate at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Criminology explore how the holistic, person-centred work of Community Chaplaincies supports the desistance process. Jane outlines the key elements of desistance theory and looks at how these link to the work being done by Community Chaplaincies.

How do you make sense of constantly changing national policy developments? Clinks’ South West Area Development Officer, Isabel Livingstone, has written this blog looking at Clinks’ local policy forums: events that provide members with an update on the national policy context and the opportunity to feed back on local policy issues. The blog gives an overview of the South West forum in December 2016 and covers the key policy issues raised.  

Substance misuse services in prison – “Shouldn’t compassion be a guiding principle?” In this blog, Clinks’ Development Officer for Health and Justice, Hazel Alcraft, discusses Clinks’ recent consultation events around NHS England’s new core service specification for substance misuse services in prisons. Some of the issues discussed were the need for better integration of services across prison establishments and the value of involving people with lived experience as peer supporters.

Shutter stories: Prison life behind the lens In this blog, Alison Frater Chair of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) talks about their 2016 Anne Peaker Lecture which focused on photography and film in prison settings. Discussing the work of key note speaker Edmund Clark, Alison writes, “These troubling photographs suggested internal conflict, a shared humanity otherwise unseen, only made possible because of the prison context.”