Each of the major political parties 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 Labour manifesto It’s time for real change that will be of interest to voluntary organisations working in criminal justice.
The labour manifesto acknowledges the role of the voluntary sector in providing social cohesion and providing targeted support. It states:
“As we rebuild our public services, we will support and maintain the social capital values of these organisations.”
It also commits to:
“Repealing the Lobbying Act 2014 and overhauling the rules that govern corporate lobbying.”
The manifesto commits to a focus on “crime prevention and early interventions, giving people the best chance of rehabilitation.” It states that smarter justice requires cross-government action to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences, recognising the link between contact with the criminal justice system and poverty and inequality.
It states that “prison is not the best place to address the drug addictions, mental illnesses and debts that lead many people into crime.”
Specific policy commitments include:
- Reunification of probation and a guaranteed publicly run, locally accountable probation service
- Restoring total prison officer numbers to 2010 levels
- Bringing Public Finance Initiative prisons back in-house and there will be no new private prisons. We will tackle the prison maintenance backlog and develop a long-term estate strategy
- New standards for community sentences and introduction of a presumption against prison sentences of six months or less for non-violent and non-sexual offences alongside further consideration of the evidence for effective alternatives and rehabilitation of prolific offenders
- Investment in proven alternatives to custody, including women’s centres
- Expanding problem-solving courts
- Plugging the funding gap in the female offender strategy
- A joined-up approach, fostering close working relationships between criminal justice agencies with education authorities, health services and others by establishing violence-reduction units
- Ensuring legal aid for inquests into deaths in state custody and the preparation of judicial review cases.
Tackling inequality in the criminal justice system
The manifesto commits to “implementation of the recommendations of the Lammy Review to address the disparity of treatment and outcomes for BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] people within the criminal justice system.”
It also states that Labour “will work to eliminate institutional biases against BAME communities and makes reference to the need for “proportionate stop-and-search based on intelligence as a tool of effective policing”, but states that “the use of expanded powers means black and Asian men are still more likely to be stopped and searched, poisoning relations between the police and the local communities they serve.”
It makes specific reference to tackling “the disproportionate levels of BAME children in custody, reviewing the youth custody estate, strengthening youth courts and building on the Lammy Review.”
A number of broader equality commitments are also made which will impact Justice as well as other areas of policy:
- Establish a new Department for Women and Equalities, with a full-time Secretary of State, responsible for ensuring all our policies and laws are equality-impact assessed in order to deliver a fairer society for women and all under-represented groups
- Labour will work with organisations and charities already making the UK a more equal and fairer society
- Establish a Social Justice Commission, based in the Treasury, with wide-ranging powers to hold the government to account
- Labour will create a new ground for discrimination on the basis of socio-economic disadvantage.
Young people and youth justice
The manifesto commits to “investment in a youth justice system in which schools, local authorities, health authorities and youth services work together to divert young people away from the pathways towards crime.”
Wales and justice devolution
Labour governments in Wales and Westminster “will work together, using the Thomas Commission’s report, to make the justice system work in Wales.”
The manifesto commits to “the implementation in full of the recommendations set out in the independent review of the Mental Health Act, so that people are given choice, autonomy and the treatment they need.”
A Labour government will “establish a Royal Commission to develop a public health approach to substance misuse, focusing on harm reduction rather than criminalisation.”
The manifesto states that “Labour will scrap Universal Credit immediately and design an alternative system guaranteeing a minimum standard of living.” While that system is designed “Labour will implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate the impact of Universal Credit.”
Labour will “repeal the Vagrancy Act and amend antisocial behaviour legislation to stop the law being used against people because they are homeless.”
The manifesto commits to “recruiting 2,000 more frontline officers than have been planned for by the Conservatives.”
We have also published a blog on the Liberal Democrat manifesto. We will publish a blog on the key commitments in the Conservative manifesto when it is released.