New frontiers of criminal justice brochure

Reform publishes “New frontiers of criminal justice” conference brochure, with articles by Mark Easton, Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson, DCC Dave Thompson QPM, Stephen Greenhalgh, James Slessor, Gary Monaghan, Adam Simmonds, Alex Marshall QPM, Drusilla Sharpling CBE, Professor Betsy Stanko, Lord Harris and Dr Mike Short CBE.

Event theme

This Parliament has seen dramatic changes to the criminal justice system, in large part driven by substantial budget cuts. Over five years the Home Office budget will have shrunk by around 20 per cent and the Ministry of Justice’s by almost 30 per cent. The scale of reform has been profound, in many areas transforming services rather than simply cutting costs.

The policing landscape in particular has been overhauled. In a speech for Reform last year the Home Secretary, Theresa May, talked about tackling “inadequate institutions and structures”, “an unaccountable system of governance” and “bureaucracy and centralisation”. All to better equip police to achieve their single overriding objective: cut crime. Police and Crime Commissioners, the College of Policing, the National Crime Agency and the Home Office Crime and Policing Knowledge Hub are all designed to increase accountability and performance. Crime is now at a record low. Policing has led the way in delivering more for less.

Further down the criminal justice process the “Transforming Rehabilitation” programme represents an equally ambitious agenda. In launching it the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, argued: “It is madness to carry on with the same old system and hope for a different result”. The probation reforms means that offenders serving less than 12 months in custody will for the first time receive support, and probation services for all but the most high-risk offenders will now be delivered by private and voluntary sector organisations under a payment by results model

However, whilst much has been achieved, much remains to be done. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, if the protected budgets remain so in the next Parliament, the Home Office and Ministry of Justice are likely to face additional cuts of somewhere between seven and 19 per cent depending on who is in power. Achieving further savings on this scale will mean doings things differently.

Indeed areas such as the courts and cuts, have largely been untouched by reform. In addition, the process of criminal justice reform is hampered by the fact that, as Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson stated in his review of criminal proceedings, there is “no such single [criminal justice] system”. To achieve the greatest efficiency and deliver the best outcomes much better integration is needed.

The next Parliament will therefore see new frontiers for reform. The transformative potential of technology is only just beginning to be realised and the power of data only just starting to be understood. While there are individual examples of meaningful collaboration across agencies, siloed working remains the norm. Changing crime types and an increased focus on complex and serious crimes will demand a different set of workforce skills. Furthermore, citizen expectations for how they interact with public services are shifting.

Multi-agency working is hampered in particular by prohibitive data-sharing protocols and a lack of coordination between ICT systems. Partnership with the private sector has the potential to revolutionise service delivery, but public sector procurement needs significant improvement.

In this major pre-election conference Reform will reflect on the opportunities and challenges facing criminal justice services over the next Parliament.

In the first session we will explore these “new frontiers of criminal justice reform”, considering the key themes of technology, integration and crime prevention. Panellists will share their insights on how the criminal justice journey – from policing, through courts, prisons and probation – can be improved in order to deliver better outcomes for less cost, drawing on examples of pioneering reforms undertaken by some agencies in this Parliament.

The second session will look at “the future of rehabilitation”. Whilst the new model of probation services has been commissioned it is yet to be implemented, and concerns remain about the pace of change. In addition, prisons are straining under budget and capacity constraints. Panellists will reflect on what this means for effective rehabilitation and how personalised interventions, resettlement and reintegration, and multi-agency partnerships can be achieved to break the offending cycle.

The final session will explore “the future of the force”. There has been much debate about the potential for force mergers, but natural collaborations combined with internal reform of operating models may represent a greater opportunity to achieve more for less. Technology and data analytics are expected to revolutionise policing, but forces have barely scratched the surface of their potential. This panel will consider how new ways of working that are more connected, more mobile and more responsive can better prevent and tackle crime.

The role and shape of criminal justice services will have to change over the next five years – new frontiers of reform will have to be reached. The themes discussed throughout this conference will inform how that can be achieved. Reform will continue to work with those driving to deliver better outcomes at lower cost.

Charlotte Pickles, Senior Research Director, Reform



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