Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Justice issues from the new Coalition government

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Crispin Blunt has been appointed minister for probation and prisons. I’d never heard of him so I looked him up. His voting record doesn’t fill me with optimism (bear in mind this probably says more about my politics than his): against the hunting and smoking bans, against the EU (say goodbye to prisoners votes then), for stricter asylum, strongly for the Iraq War, for and against (how is that possible?) equal gay rights. At least he voted against ID cards and Labour’s anti-Terrorism legislation.

The coalition government has published it’s full agreement today, so I looked at the Justice section… I haven’t yet decided if I am dismayed or pleased to see that probation doesn’t get a mention in the whole document. On the one hand, does it mean that probation is going to be left alone, to carry on what it is already doing with no massive changes or has the justice agency which deals more people than prison completely slipped the new government’s mind? I suspect it is a mix of the two (prison doesn’t get much of a mention either so I assume they haven’t decided if they will attempt a decrease in the prison population). I suspect there are changes on the way, especially through this ambiguous, innocuous on the surface but ultimately scary sentence:

We will introduce a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ that will pay independent providers to reduce reoffending, paid for by the savings this new approach will generate within the criminal justice system (p. 23).
This can only mean one thing: more privatisation – it will be interesting to see how this pans out. The rest of the justice section is fairly unremarkable- they want to improve sentencing and treatment for drug using offenders and offenders with mental health problems, improve services for victims of rape and make sure that historical convictions for gay sex are “spent” under the Rehab of Offenders Act (which seems laudable if a bit esoteric when compared to the generality of the rest of the Justice section). They want to make Legal Aid more efficient0- they don’t say how but I can guess it will result in less people receiving the legal help they need and they want to target low level crime and ASB with… restorative justice! Using RJ for ASB makes sense but I don’t know why it’s limited to this group of “offending”.

Written by criminologyandstuff

May 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Posted in criminal justice

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