Tuesday’s King’s Speech headlined new criminal justice legislation as the government used the opening of parliament to send a tough-on-crime message to the public ahead of an impending general election next year.
However, the legislative agenda fails to address the multiple challenges facing our prisons, courts, police, and probation services. There is a failure to plan for a capacity crisis in our prisons, as highlighted by the MoJ’s own forecasts. The police service has yet to provide a clear strategic response to the crisis in trust and confidence, and our courts are grappling with major backlogs.
These are just some of the numerous crises that are impacting the criminal justice system. As the Institute for Government recently highlighted in a report, our public services are in perpetual decline, and those in the criminal justice system are at the forefront of these challenges. What we need from all political parties is a more comprehensive and thoughtful response to crime and addressing its root causes.
This means more than just seeking solutions beyond enforcement and punishment; it also means critically listening to those communities and individuals who have been directly affected. Their engagement and participation as equals in the process of policy development is essential if we are to create policies that genuinely reduce crime and make society safer.