Every month Clinks members get an exclusive policy briefing covering everything that we have heard, seen, been involved with, and what we are doing to support the voluntary sector’s voice. This blog is a quick run through the big issues, and a taster of what Clinks members get in our monthly ebulletin.
We have had an interesting last few months: the EU referendum result and the many questions that that throws up for the voluntary sector, leadership contests and battles from across the political spectrum, a completely new team in the Ministry of Justice and a lot of uncertainty as to what this all means on the ground.
What Clinks has been up to…
The world keeps spinning and we have been busy presenting the voluntary sector’s views to government. We have
- met with the new Secretary of State, Liz Truss, in her first week, and sent letters to each new minister outlining the importance of the voluntary sector
- met with members of the Lammy Review team to follow up our response to their consultation on racial bias in the Criminal Justice System
- submitted evidence to the Public Accounts Committee’s Inquiry into Transforming Rehabilitation
- submitted our response to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on the sentencing of youths
- continued to lobby for the recommendations made in our ‘Change and challenge’ report on the voluntary sector’s involvement in Transforming Rehabilitation.
You can read all Clinks’ consultation responses on our website, including submissions to the Lammy review, Taylor review, review into the care of transgender offenders and more.
What’s on the to-do list…?
There is also a lot that’s on the horizon and in progress. This includes:
- A response to the Justice Select Committee inquiry on prison reform
- The Charity Commission consultation on the power to disqualify people from acting as a trustee (and a senior manager) which will affect a range of people with previous convictions
- The Lords Select Committee’s call for evidence on the sustainability of charities
A new direction for justice?
There are a lot of questions at the moment about what direction the Ministry of Justice will take under its new leadership. So far we have seen a continued focus on the prison reform agenda, with perhaps a slightly revised focus on safety in prisons. However, given that parliament is now in summer recess until 5th September, we will have to wait before any significant announcements. We expect that more will be known in and around the conference season when the new Secretary of State will have to give her speech to the Conservative Party conference.
Supporting the sector in Transforming rehabilitation
We are keeping a close eye on Transforming Rehabilitation and its impact on the voluntary sector. We now know that Sam Gyimah is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prisons and Probation, so we will be talking to him about how we can support better engagement of the sector, particularly smaller organisations. We will be emphasising that more needs to be done to address a lack of transparency, poor communications and the low levels of voluntary sector involvement with Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service. We also know that new issues are emerging for the sector, so Clinks will be looking to survey the sector again in the New Year. If new issues are immediate and concerning then please contact me and let us know so that we can support you – you can always email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping equalities on the agenda
We also await word of what will happen in the equalities arena. We have been anticipating an announcement of what the plan is for women in the justice system; given that all the reform prisons are in the male estate we would hope that some focus could be brought back to how we reform the system for women. Dr. Philip Lee, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Victims, Youth and Family Justice has a very wide brief that includes women and we will be engaging with him on this issue. In the meantime we are keen to hear from the sector and have set up a ‘working with women’ networking forum in partnership with Women’s Breakout, Women’s Resource Centre and Agenda. Book your place on the next event here.
Dr. Lee also has the brief for the Lammy Review into racial disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System, and we hope and expect to see continued backing for this important review. Looking down the Minister’s list of responsibilities you’ll also see youth justice, and many of us are still waiting to see what will happen to Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system which was due to be published shortly after Liz Truss replaced Michael Gove as justice secretary.
We’re also keen to press ahead with our work around volunteering in prison. This work had been supported by the former Minister for Prisons and Probation, Andrew Selous, but we know that volunteering matters and that it forms an essential part of many voluntary sector services. We will be working to get renewed support for our report and its recommendations at both the Ministry of Justice and in local prisons.
This is just a snapshot of our more detailed Policy Bulletin. If you want more information then become a member to receive this and many other exclusive member benefits.
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The RR3 special interest group on Covid-19 will today convene voluntary sector leaders to discuss what is needed to mitigate the impacts of the virus on CJS voluntary organisations and the service users they support. We'll publish the key points from the discussion in a blog.