In an ever changing policy landscape, especially in relation to criminal justice policy, Clinks keeps a keen eye on developments in the external environment. This enables us to determine what opportunities there might be for the sector to engage in policy debates and discussion and to provide timely updates about priority policy areas and what we might expect in the future.
This blog complements the information we have included in our monthly members policy briefing and aims to give an update on what we have been up to, as well as going into greater detail about priority policy issues.
New and existing ministers
As readers will know, the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Boris Johnson MP reshuffled his cabinet in early February. There have been some changes in ministers at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and their respective portfolios:
- The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP remains as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
- The Rt. Hon Lord Keen of Elie QC remains as HM Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokesperson for the Lords and has responsibility for advising the Secretary of State for Justice on civil law and justice and legal services.
- Lucy Frazer QC MP remains as Minister of State for Prisons and Probation and her portfolio remains the same including women, health and youth justice amongst other things.
- Alex Chalk MP has been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. He previously sat as a member of the Justice Select Committee and his responsibilities include race disparity in the justice system as well as being the MoJ lead for domestic abuse and violence.
- Kit Malthouse MP has been appointed Minister of State at the MoJ but is also Minister of State for Crime and Policing at the Home Office. His responsibilities at the MoJ include cross-cutting criminal justice issues and drugs and alcohol.
- Chris Philp MP has been reappointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the MoJ and is also Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office. At the MoJ his responsibilities include court and tribunal services and sentencing.
Baroness Barran MBE remains as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but there have also been changes in the department, as Caroline Dinenage MP has been appointed Minister of State for Digital and Culture with responsibility for Arts and Libraries. Caroline Dinenage was previously Prisons Minister so this might be positive for criminal justice organisations working through arts and culture. Nadine Dorries MP remains as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Health and Social Care responsible for health for people in contact with the criminal justice system.
Clinks has written to all relevant ministers to congratulate them on their appointment or reappointment and to highlight the important role voluntary organisations working with people in contact with the criminal justice system.
As well as ministerial changes, the Justice Committee, a group of MPs who scrutinise MoJ’s spending and policies, has also confirmed its new membership for this parliament. The membership of the committee can be found here. Clinks has written to Sir Robert Neill MP to congratulate him on his continued role as chair of the committee.
Advisory boards to government
The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory group (RR3) met to provide advice to Lucy Frazer and a number of senior government officials on the probation reform programme, following the publication of the draft Target Operating Model. The group also provided feedback to officials on the government’s progress in tackling race disparities in the criminal justice system, following their recently published update which includes their progress in response to the Lammy Review. During the final session of the day, the RR3 discussed their priorities for proactive work over the coming year. Minutes from the meeting and a summary blog will be published in the coming weeks.
Kate Aldous, Head of Strategic Development at Clinks, attended the latest meeting of the Advisory Board for Female Offenders (ABFO), which provides scrutiny to the MoJ on the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy. This was the first meeting of the group with Minister Lucy Frazer as chair. The group received an update about the progress the department have made on the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy that they published almost two years ago and raised issues in relation to the probation review and how this will relate to organisations providing specialist support to women.
Speaking up on your behalf
We have been working alongside our members to highlight the impact of current and future policies on your services and the people you support. Some recent examples of this include:
- Clinks responded to the Home Office consultation on Unauthorised Encampments, highlighting how criminalisation of trespass will adversely impact Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and people sleeping rough – groups that are already over represented and experience poorer outcomes in the criminal justice system. We will be publishing our response shortly.
- The Making Every Adult Matter coalition (MEAM) has responded to the Lords Economic Committee inquiry into the economics of Universal Credit. The response highlights the adverse impact Universal Credit has had on people facing multiple disadvantage including those in contact with the criminal justice system. Clinks is a member of MEAM, alongside Homeless Link, Mind, and associate member Collective Voice.
- We are also responding to the DCMS consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion, focusing on the disproportionate impact of the current system on women. If you would like to contribute to this please contact Lauren Nickolls at Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org. The consultation closes on 1st April.
- Minister Lucy Frazer recently held a roundtable to explore the challenges experienced by people in contact with the criminal justice system accessing safe, secure and stable accommodation. We attended alongside our members, and reiterated our call for the MoJ to develop and lead a cross-departmental accommodation strategy.
If you have any comments on the information included in this blog and would like to get in touch please contact Nicola Drinkwater, Policy Manager at Nicola.email@example.com