Various news stories recently around crime and prisons, including several via Clinks, the umbrella organisations for voluntary organisations in the criminal justice sector.
Deaths in custody
Charity Inquest say deaths in custody are a national scandal in need of immediate and urgent attention, in a new report including case studies and analysis of jury findings and coroners’ reports from 61 inquests. It highlights five main areas of concern related to deaths in custody:
- insufficient mental health care and assessments;
- failures to provide basic medical care;
- inadequate recording and sharing of important medical information;
- inadequate training of staff in first aid skills to identify medical emergencies; and
- issues related to both prescription and illicit drugs.
The report recommends that the government commits to an immediate reduction in the prison population, and for the establishment of an independent ‘National Oversight Mechanism’ to analyse learning and implementation arising from post death investigations, inquiries and inquests.
Separation of children in young offender institutions
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) has published the findings of its thematic inspection into the separation of children in young offender institutions. The inspection found that the experience of most children who had been separated amounted to solitary confinement. In the worst cases children left their cells for just 15 minutes a day and were unable to access basic necessities including daily showers and phone calls. Oversight locally and nationally was found to be poor. HMIP has recommended that a new system be implemented which encourages human interaction and provides an equivalent regime for non-separated and separated children.
ONS crime stats released
The Office for National Statistics has recently released its latest figures around crime, for the year ending September 2019.
The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show continued rises in overall fraud, with a 9% increase (to 3.8 million offences) in the year ending September 2019, driven by a rise in “bank and credit account fraud”.
All other main crime types measured by CSEW showed no change, including lower-harm violent offences (for example, violence without injury and assault with minor injury).
- a 6% decrease in the overall number of homicides (from 654 to 617) following a period of increases
- no percentage change in the number of police recorded offences (6,144) involving firearms
- a 7% increase in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments to 44,771 offences
For the full report (which may be useful for generating figures for funding bids) see the ONS website.
The Home Office is consulting on proposals to criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales. Organisations working with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups have raised concerns that they may be increasingly criminalised if the proposals in the consultation are enacted. Friends Families and Travellers (FFT), a charity representing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups, recently found that 75% of police forces who responded to their freedom of information (FOI) requests felt current police powers were sufficient and 84% did not support the criminalisation of unauthorised encampments. FFT calls on the government to adopt an approach focussed on providing suitable sites, rather than increasing enforcement. The consultation closes on 4th March.
Free workshop – engaging with the media
The Academy for Social Justice is holding a FREE seminar: ‘A story of Crime and Justice: how to engage effectively with the media’ on 25 February, in Bristol.
Speakers: Kieran McCartan, Professor of Criminology, Penelope Gibbs, Transform Justice, former BBC journalist Philippa Budgen.
The seminar will discuss how the public conversation around crime and justice can be reframed and more nuanced.
Clinks Annual Conference
The Clinks Annual Conference is in London on 12 May, with workshops, presentations and panels.
- Members’ staff, trustees, & volunteers: Early bird £50, standard £80
- Members’ service users: Early bird £30, standard £50 – please email email@example.com for details.
- Non-members: £130
Booking via the Clinks website.