Reform 2017 criminal justice conference: where next for criminal justice reform?

March 2017

Reform held a major criminal justice conference on 30 March 2017. The conference touched on the themes of a connected justice system and prisoner rehabilitation.

Download the full conference brochure here.

This conference brochure contains articles covering themes from across the conference from leading figures in public services including:

  • Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
  • Paul Whittaker CBE, Crown Platform Transformation Director, Crown Prosecution Service
  • Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair, Sussex Criminal Justice Board
  • Jason Hall, Vice President, Central Government and Police, BT Group
  • Ian Blakeman, Executive Governor, HMP Holme House and Kirklevington Grange Reform Prisons
  • Joanne Drew, Director of Housing, Nacro
  • Gary Monaghan, Digital Prisons Lead, National Offender Management Service
  • Jerry Petherick, Managing Director, Custodial and Detention Services, G4S


Reform comment

In November last year, on a Reform platform, Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP launched the Government’s prison reform white paper. The speed with which Prison Safety and Reform was published – just four months after the new administration was formed and the new Secretary of State appointed – shows the importance attached to this policy area.

Escalating violence has provided a burning platform for reform, but high reoffending rates have long been cause for concern. The white paper addresses both. It continues the policy of Reform Prisons (and we are delighted to have Ian Blakeman, an Executive Governor of two, speaking today), devolving power to those who know best the changes needed to deliver better outcomes. Additional staff and £1.3 billion of investment in modernising the prison estate will help in that transformation.

It is, however, the Secretary of State’s comments in front of the Justice Committee last September that are most encouraging:  the Government would seek reform of the “overall system”. Reforming prisons without regard to probation limits the potential of those reforms. Evidence shows – as Reform’s report Local commissioning, local solutions: devolving offender management argued – that the best outcomes are achieved where an offender’s journey from the criminal justice system is as seamless as possible. Services must be delivered at the right time and in the right place, and consistency of case management is key. ‘Through-the-gate’ provision might be a catchy phrase but it is also an essential ingredient to successful rehabilitation.

Our second panel will explore this topic, looking at how prisons and probation services can deliver the desired ‘rehabilitation revolution’, including through better use of technology. Panellists will explore how the white paper’s reforms can act as building blocks to a much more joined-up system that makes the most of the opportunity to intervene to turn offenders’ lives around. Gary Monaghan, Ian Blakeman, Jerry Petherick and Joanne Drew will share their deep experience of working to do just that.

Another priority for Government is building a more efficient and effective justice system. In his 2015 review, Lord Leveson noted that “the criminal justice system is not, in reality, a single system”. This has led to unnecessary expense and delays in the delivery of justice – with adverse impacts on victims and witnesses. Liz Truss reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to reform, calling for a justice system that is “no less just but is far more efficient and accessible”. Collaboration across each separate service – from police forces through the Crown Prosecution Service to the courts and into prisons – will be crucial. This means agreed data principles, interoperable IT systems and common processes.

It is this topic that will kick off the conference. The opening panel will explore the role of the Common Platform in connecting different services and enabling the fast, secure transfer of data – Reform is delighted to have Paul Whittaker to share his insight as the person leading that programme. It will also consider the potential of video-enabled justice to deliver swifter justice – something Reform explored in The future of public services: digital justice, which looked at the work being led by Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne in Sussex, also a panellist. Digital capability must underpin a modern, effective justice system that works for citizens. Jason Hall, alongside Paul and Katy, will share his extensive insight of how the Government can go further.

Reform is thrilled to have such excellent attendance, and delegates are encouraged to ask thought-provoking questions of our speakers. We are grateful that you have given your time to discuss this crucial area of public service reform. It will remain a topic at the centre of Reform’s work.

Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research