Each of the major political parties in England and Wales are due to launch their general election manifestos over this week and next. As each manifesto is published Clinks will be analysing and summarising the key commitments of relevance to criminal justice policy and the work of voluntary sector organisations working in criminal justice. We hope that this information will be useful to the sector in planning for the potential policies of the future government.
This blog outlines key policy commitments in the Conservative manifesto Get Brexit done: Unleash Britain’s potential that will be of interest to voluntary organisations working in criminal justice. Find the costings for this manifesto, the online version, and accessible versions on their website.
The voluntary sector
In the manifesto’s section entitled We will unleash Britain’s potential, it states:
“We stand for those who give their time to help others – the charities, community groups and volunteers who already do so much to make our country a better place.”
The manifesto commits to:
- Use government procurement to support new ideas and new companies and continue to support charities which have helped to transform our public services.
In a section entitled Make our country safer, the manifesto states:
“We need a fair justice system – one that stands for the law-abiding majority, not the criminal minority, and that gives a second chance to those who have served their time and wish to make a fresh start.” It goes on to say “In order to successfully keep our streets safe, we need to turn people away from crime and end the cycle of reoffending”
It makes the following policy commitments:
- Introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes. For child murderers, there will be life imprisonment without parole.
- Anyone charged with knife possession will appear before magistrates within days not weeks. Those who use a knife as a weapon should go to prison.
- Prevent more foreign national offenders entering the country, cut the number of foreign nationals in our prisons, and increase penalties to stop them returning.
- Expand electronic tagging for criminals serving time outside jail, including the use of sobriety tags for those whose offending is fuelled by alcohol.
- Toughen community sentences, for example by tightening curfews and making those convicted do more hours of community payback to clean up our parks and streets.
- Add 10,000 more prison places, with £2.75 billion already committed to refurbishing and creating modern prisons.
- Maintain the ban on prisoners voting from jail.
- Conduct a root-and-branch review of the parole system to improve accountability and public safety, giving victims the right to attend hearings for the first time, and establish a Royal Commission on the criminal justice process.
- Create a prisoner education service focused on work-based training and skills.
- Improve employment opportunities for ex-offenders, including a job coach in each prison.
In a section entitled youth offending the Conservatives state that “young people are less likely to get into trouble in a well-disciplined school”
The manifesto commits to:
- £500 million investment in youth services for young people.
- Expand ‘alternative provision’ schools for those who have been excluded and the current trialling of secure schools for those who have offended.
- New laws will require schools, police, councils and health authorities to work together through Violence Reduction Units to prevent serious crime.
The manifesto also states that the Conservatives will “Improve the Troubled Families programme and champion Family Hubs to serve vulnerable families with the intensive, integrated support they need to care for children – from the early years and throughout their lives.”
Under the heading Addiction the manifesto commits to:
- Tackle drug-related crime, and at the same time take a new approach to treatment so we can reduce drug deaths and break the cycle of crime linked to addiction.
Also included in the section Make our countries safer are a number of policy commitments on policing including:
- Police will be empowered by a new court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop and search those convicted of knife crime.
- We will strengthen the accountability of elected Police and Crime Commissioners and expand their role.
- New police powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers who set up unauthorised encampments.
Policy commitments with regards to health include:
- Enshrine in law the fully funded, long-term NHS plan.
- Reduce health inequality.
- Extend social prescribing and expand the new National Academy of Social Prescribing.
- Treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health.
- Legislate so that patients suffering from mental health conditions, including anxiety or depression, have greater control over their treatment and receive the dignity and respect they deserve.
In a section entitled Support for working families the Manifesto includes the following commitments with regards to welfare:
- We will continue the roll-out of Universal Credit.
- We will do more to make sure that Universal Credit works for the most vulnerable.
Under the title Deliver the housing people need, the following manifesto commitments are made:
- We will end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament by expanding successful pilots and programmes such as the Rough Sleeping Initiative and Housing First, and working to bring together local services to meet the health and housing needs of people sleeping on the streets.
- We will help pay for this by bringing in a stamp duty surcharge on non-UK resident buyers.
Notes from the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) Special Interest Group on Covid-19
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We are extremely disappointed that the JCVI advice on phase 2 of the COVID vaccination programme does not prioritise people in prison and those who work with them, including voluntary sector staff and volunteers https://gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-phase-2-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-programme-advice-from-the-jcvi/jcvi-interim-statement-on-phase-2-of-the-covid-19-vaccination-programme