Building trust among BAME people in the criminal justice system

Phil Bowen, Director at the Centre for Justice Innovation

‘My mistrust started with the police. I didn’t trust anyone. As for judges and magistrates, they were the last people I trusted - elderly, white English people and that’s not what I see in society outside.’ At 18, Suleman was sentenced to two years in prison. His story is not unique. In the CJI’s latest report, Building Trust, we outline the troubling racial disparities encountered by minority ethnic defendants in criminal court. (more…)

RJ – What’s not costed will never be paid for

Ben Summerskill, Director at the Criminal Justice Alliance

Something that's struck me in the two years that I've been lucky enough to work for the CJA is how often people delivering across the criminal justice pathway are resigned to a quiet desperation that things never change. I've never accepted that myself because I believe strongly that things don't change. People change things. However, sometimes in order to change things they need the right tools. (more…)

In 2016, Christmas came early …

Sharon Berry, Director at Storybook Dads

Just before Christmas, our charity was named Organisation of the Year at the 2016 CJA Awards. Storybook Dads lets dads, and mums, in prison record stories which can be played to their children. (more…)

On the stopping train to prison reform

Ben Summerskill, Director at the Criminal Justice Alliance

After 14 months of enthralling high-wire performances by an all-singing all-dancing Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss’s tenure in the role has thus far seemed to many to be muted in comparison. She evidently lacks her predecessor’s sense of absolute certainty about what should be done. (However absolute certainty, as any student of Chris Grayling’s stewardship of the role will note, does not always guarantee better outcomes.) (more…)

Involving young people is essential for the future of the youth justice system

Pippa Goodfellow, Policy Programmes Manager at Nacro

Nacro’s Beyond Youth Custody (BYC) programme aims to help young people turn around their lives by ensuring the right resettlement services are in place for them in custody through to the community. A fundamental principle underpinning our approach is the importance of giving young people with lived experience a voice – because nobody understands the challenges better. (more…)

Change is within our grasp

John Samuels, retiring Chair of the CJA

My involvement with the Criminal Justice Alliance began by a series of happy accidents. By chance I attended its 2007 launch and there I met Nick Herbert MP, a fellow believer in criminal justice reform. Later I began to attend members meetings on behalf of the Prisoners Education Trust and, because I believed in what the Alliance could achieve, I joined its Board in 2010. (more…)

The hidden victims of home raids

Katherine Copperthwaite, Children and Young People’s Advocate at Prison Advice & Care Trust

It’s well-documented that children with a family member in prison are significantly more likely to experience poverty, homelessness and educational issues. They are twice as likely to experience mental health problems and statistics also show that 65 per cent of boys with a convicted father will go on to offend themselves. It is therefore essential to ensure these children and young people are supported and do not turn to criminal behaviour themselves. (more…)

Seek out uncongenial company in 2017

Ben Summerskill, Director at the Criminal Justice Alliance

The painfully predictable riots at HMP Birmingham just before Christmas caused one prison reformer to share with Twitter the firm view that ‘everyone’ knows we need to reduce the population of Britain’s overcrowded prisons. It was a guileless insight into a worldview that made me sit up. (more…)

Is stop-and-search really ’intelligence-led’?

Peter Keeling, Policy & Member Support Officer at the Criminal Justice Alliance

Police in England and Wales conducted 386,000 stop-and-searches in 2015/16, a drop of over 60 per cent from the all-time high of 1.2 million in 2010/11. Drug searches account for more than three in five of all searches. And nearly 40,000 searches for a firearm or offensive weapon were conducted. (more…)

Into the blinding light

Paula Harriott, Head of Involvement at Revolving Doors Agency

When I speak about user involvement it's not only as Head of Involvement at Revolving Doors and previously at User Voice, but also as a former prisoner. I do so to illustrate how important service user involvement can be in bringing the hidden lived experience of criminal justice from the murky margins of stigma and shame into the blinding light. (more…)