‘Criminal justice system is broken’: Review of UK prisons
Review of the UK’s prison system by the former Conservative Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has found the system is “broken”, and the Government should do more to reform it.
The review, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, found the Department of Justice was “shallow” in its treatment of inmates, as well as the lack of adequate supervision of the prison service.
It also said the prison system had “a poor track record of reducing recidivism”.
“The criminal justice system as a whole is broken, and it’s a question of how badly we want to fix it,” Mr Blunketts told the BBC.
The Review of Corrections (CRTC) is the first independent body of its kind to look at the quality of the country’s prisons and has found: “The prison system is not fit for purpose”.
It found that the UK has the lowest rate of re-offending in the EU, and had the lowest re-incarceration rate of any European country.
It said there was “significant” evidence that prisoners are “at higher risk of reoffending, particularly in the context of a prolonged prison sentence”.
“We have a poor track track record in this area, and we have a responsibility to make sure we’re doing something about it,” said Mr Blinketts.
“I think that we have to make the effort to do something about this.”
We’ve got to be a bit more careful and we’ve got a responsibility not to be so complacent about what’s happening in our prisons.
“So we’re very happy with that. “
The way we’ve been running prisons is that the first sentence is a custodial sentence, and the second sentence is mandatory minimum,” he said.
The review found that in 2011-12, there were about 1,000 people in prison for non-violent offences, compared to more than 200,000 at any time in the past. “
But the reality is that we’re not in a position where we’re in a situation where we can actually do that.”
The review found that in 2011-12, there were about 1,000 people in prison for non-violent offences, compared to more than 200,000 at any time in the past.
In contrast, in 2012-13 there were around 13,000 prisoners in custody for non of violent offences, while there were more than 10,000 in custody on other charges, including for drug possession.
“There are two very big issues,” Mr Flickett said.
He said there were “four or five hundred and fifty people” who had been released from prison since the beginning of 2011, but that the rest of the prisoners in the system had been “totally neglected”.
He also called for a review of the mandatory minimum sentence, which is currently at the top of the Government’s “ten priorities”, and to increase funding for mental health services in the justice system.
“It is absolutely appalling that there are so many people in the criminal justice sector who are simply not receiving the help they need,” he added.
Mr Flicketts also called on the Government to establish a “national prison review body”, which would look at “what is wrong with the system, what is wrong in the way it’s run”.
“We need a national prison review, we need a prison review agency, we should look at what we can do to get the people that are in the prison that we need,” Mr Fricketts said.