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The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto commitments on justice
A summary of the Liberal Democrats' manifesto commitments on justice

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Crime and Policing

It is a tradition of this blog that I summarise the main manifesto pledges of the main political parties during the general election campaign. Usually I interpret “main” as Labour, LibDems and Conservatives but this time I feel duty bound to cover Reform as well on the basis that the opinion polls have them at a higher level than the LibDems. Apologies to readers from Scotland and Northern Ireland, this series focuses solely on manifesto pledges relating to the English and Welsh criminal justice system.

I am careful to restrict myself to a summary of the pledges themselves with no views or comments and try my best to be transparent although I don’t claim to cover every issue, just the ones that the parties themselves prioritise.

Today’s post summarises the justice commitments of the Liberal Democrats who published their manifesto yesterday (10 June 2024).

There are 22 sections in the LibDems’ manifesto with 19 of these relating to different policy areas. Section 11 is entitled “crime and policing” which is introduced by a short paragraph “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own homes and communities. Liberal Democrats will prevent crime and build communities where people can truly feel safe.”

The manifesto highlights five priorities:

  • Restoring proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes – especially rape and other violent crime.
  • Creating a new statutory guarantee that all burglaries will be attended by the police and properly investigated.
  • Investing in the criminal justice system to tackle the backlog of court cases and ensure swift justice.
  • Breaking the cycle of reoffending by improving rehabilitation in prisons and on release, and strengthening the supervision of offenders in the community.
  • Ensuring survivors of violence against women and girls are properly supported in the criminal justice process, including through mandatory training for police and prosecutors in understanding the impact of trauma on survivors.

The “more detail” section includes a very wide range of commitments, ranging from scrapping Police and Crime Commissioners to introducing new laws to crack down on puppy and kitten smuggling.

Policing

Policing priorities include:

  • Freeing up local officers’ time to focus on their communities by creating a new Online Crime Agency and properly resourcing the National Crime Agency to combat serious and organised crime.
  • Rebuilding trust in the police by implementing the Casey Review recommendations and setting ambitious targets for improving diversity and ending the disproportionate use of stop and search
  • Tackling staff shortages (partly by ensuring fair pay rises)
  • Improving the police response to mental ill-health

Courts

The LibDems pledge to tackle the backlogs in the criminal courts and reduce the number of people in prison on remand by:

  • Setting a clear target of halving the time from offence to sentencing for all criminals, and implementing a properly funded strategy across the criminal justice system to achieve it.
  • Implementing a new data strategy across the criminal justice system to ensure that capacity meets demand, and to understand the needs of all users, especially victims, vulnerable people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • Developing a workforce strategy to ensure there are enough criminal barristers, judges and court staff. 

They also commit to transparency throughout the criminal justice process by enabling all victims to request a transcript of court proceedings free of charge.

Reoffending

There are eight action areas in the cut reoffending section:

  • Ending prison overcrowding.
  • Recruiting and retaining more prison officers.
  • Improving the provision of training, education and work opportunities in prisons.
  • Establishing a Women’s Justice Board and providing specialist training for all staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system.
  • Replacing Young Offender Institutions with Secure Schools and Secure Children’s Homes.
  • Ensuring that every prison has a ‘through the gate’ mentorship programme.
  • Introducing a National Resettlement Plan to improve the rehabilitation of people leaving prison and cut reoffending.
  • Improving and properly funding the supervision of offenders in the community, with far greater coordination between the prison service, probation service providers, the voluntary and private sectors and local authorities, achieving savings in the high costs of reoffending.

Other priorities

Other priorities include:

  • Ensure that survivors of domestic abuse are properly supported throughout the criminal justice system 
  • Address youth violence and combat knife crime
  • Combat the rise of fraud and scam
  • Improve cooperation with our European neighbours on tackling cross-border crime, such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade, cybercrime and terrorism
  • Tackle modern slavery and human trafficking

You can read the full manifesto here.

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