Three justice priorities
As regular readers know only too well, the last five years have seen some of the biggest changes in our Justice system, in particular since Chris Grayling took over the role of Justice Secretary in September 2012. These include:
- The privatisation of the probation service via Transforming Rehabilitation,
- Numerous changes removing “privileges from prisoners” to make prison a more punitive experience
- The decision to build the Welsh “Titan” super prison in Wrexham
- The Secure College initiative for young offenders
- The large scale cuts and changes to the Legal Aid system
At the time of writing, it’s far from clear who will win the election on 7 May nor what direction they will take the criminal justice system.
For the first time in recent years, it seems as if the political parties may have different policies in the criminal justice arena. But what should the priorities be for the next Justice Secretary? (I should point out that the next Justice Secretary might be Mr Grayling again, but I’m guessing that if the Conservatives win, he may still move on.)
If I were Justice Secretary…
So, I thought the timing was right to invite a range of key criminal justice agencies and commentators to write a brief blog post setting out their top three priorities for the new Justice Secretary to be achieved in his/her first year in office.
I’ve set out to get views from as many points of view as possible – think tanks, campaign groups, user organisations, providers, unions etc. The Prison Reform Trust, Rob Allen, Jim Brown, NAPO, Paul Senior and the Revolving Doors Agency are among those who have signed up.
Contributors were given carte blanche with the sole ground rule being a strict 500 word limit to make it easy for everyone reading on phones and tablets.
The series will kick off next week with the views of Andrew Neilson (@neilsonandrew) of the Howard League for Penal Reform and will run through the election campaign with one or two contributions per week.
The purpose of this blog series is to stimulate a debate about where our criminal justice system should be heading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the justice priorities should be.