7 things I learnt about justice policy

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies invaluable annual round-up of key UK justice policy developments.

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CCJS Justice Policy Review

Last week, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies published its invaluable annual review into key justice policy developments across the UK. Volume 9 covers from the 25 July 2018 to 12 December 2019, the date of the last general election.

The CCJS review always makes for a fascinating read. Below are 7 key facts that I have plucked from this year’s document:

1 The balance of central/local government funding of our police services 

There is a massive variation in this balance between forces such as Northumbria where national government funds 81% and Surrey where it funds just 43% as this fascinating infographic shows. 

2 Changes in punishment

The number of people sent to prison fell markedly on the previous year as did the number of people starting any form of probation supervision. The number of fines imposed by courts rose in the same period.

(For full details see the data dashboard below.)

3 Fewer people are going through the justice system

The trend for fewer people to enter our justice system continues with the numbers of out of court disposals, prosecutions and convictions all falling again.

(For full details see the data dashboard below.)

4 Prison and probation staffing increases

The number of prison officers has gone back up by over 4,000 in the last four years while the number of probation staff has increased by over one thousand in the same time period.

(For full details see the data dashboard below.)

5 UK Prison population is falling slowly

Since 2015, the UK prison population had been on a slow, declining trend. The change in the prison population in Northern Ireland was the most dramatic, dropping by nearly 20 per cent between 2015 and 2019. Scotland had bucked the trend. Its male prison population grew by six per cent, while the, numerically much smaller, female population had remained stable. England and Wales had seen a modest three per cent fall, from around 86,000 to just under 82,700. [The impact of coronavirus means that on 26 June the figure for England & Wales was 79,453.]

6 Scottish prison problems

An Audit Scotland report on the Scottish Prison Service, published in September 2019, noted that sickness absence among prison officers had risen by 60 per cent in the three years to 2019. It also highlighted ‘growing violence between prisoners and against prison officers’ and questioned the long-term financial sustainability of the Scottish Prison Service. The number of self harm incidents in Scottish prisons has risen sharply over recent years mirroring the same situation in England and Wales.

7 Suicide under probation

Another grim statistic is the increasing numbers of people in England and Wales who have taken their own lives while under probation supervision.

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