The Criminal Justice Alliance has submitted a response to the Home Office’s consultation on the Draft Community Scrutiny Framework: National Guidance for Community Scrutiny Panels (CSP). With a strong emphasis on policing issues such as Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), stop and search, and victim support, the CJA recognises the critical role of community scrutiny and accountability in enhancing policing legitimacy and transparency. While we appreciate several elements in the draft guidance, we stress the importance of greater uniformity and a more comprehensive acknowledgment of the current policing context. We emphasise that effective community scrutiny can help rebuild trust with communities, especially those who have historically had strained relationships with police. Our amendments and recommendations emphasise transparency, equity, and the rebuilding of trust with all communities as key goals.
The Criminal Justice Alliance has submitted a response to the Home Office’s consultation on revisions to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) – Code A, focusing on the exercise of stop and search powers by police officers. In light of our ongoing supercomplaint to repeal Section 60 stop and search, we expressed concerns about the expansion of such searches. We welcome certain revisions in the code, such as improved communication of authorisations to the public, data collection for annual reports, and updated ethnic categories. However we urgently need greater community engagement and the inclusion of perspectives of those directly affected by these powers in policy development.
In this response to the National Audit Office’s survey into improving resettlement support for people leaving prison, we worked with over 40 members to focus on how the government can better provide access to education and employment to prison leavers and strengthen their family relationships. We call for a cross-government national resettlement strategy.
In this response to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing (CoP)’s Police Race Action Plan, we welcome the commitment of the police to becoming an anti-racist police service that is trusted by Black people, and the positive direction set out in the Plan. However, we have also highlighted our overall and fundamental concerns that the Plan overlooks key areas that would improve policing for Black people, such as a specific focus on improving Black detainees’ experiences of police custody and addressing Black women and girls’ experiences of policing. We also state that the Plan’s ambitions are undermined by recent policy decisions to extend some police powers that disproportionately affect Black people. Our members are also concerned that the plan has not been co-produced with Black communities.
The CJA recommends the removal of the exclusionary rule and for the return to a discretionary system which was in place prior to 2012. This would mean decision-makers in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) can exercise discretion in order to compensate those with unspent convictions, where there are exceptional reasons for an award not to be withheld or reduced.
In this response to the Justice Select Committee’s inquiry into the role of adult custodial remand, we urge the government to reduce the rising level of remand through the urgent scaling-up of Bail Information Services in courts and prisons. We also recommend the government end the disproportionate use of remand for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women and divert resources set aside for prison expansion to community-based support services, such as Women’s Centres.
In this response to the Justice Select Committee, we recommend that the four overarching principles of the Victims’ Code set out in the Bill be expanded to reflect all 12 entitlements in the current Code. Furthermore, agencies should have a statutory duty to comply with the Code’s entitlements, and the Victims’ Commissioner’s powers should be strengthened to provide national oversight of the operation of the Code.
We emphasise that victims should have a statutory entitlement to be informed about restorative justice (RJ) and how to access RJ, and a statutory right to be automatically referred to an RJ service. We urge the government to reintroduce a national RJ action plan, which sets out how access, awareness and capacity will be improved within the criminal justice system. The government should publish its annual progress against this action plan, and a new plan should be developed and laid before Parliament at least every five years.
In this response to the Children’s Commissioner’s call for evidence for the Family Review, we specifically focus on how the Children’s Commissioner can improve the outcomes of children who are experiencing parental and family imprisonment. We call on the Children’s Commissioner to explicitly promote and protect the rights of these children, for a statutory process to be introduced to identify these children, and for family support services for those in prison and children and families in the community to have adequate and sustainable funding.
In this response to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into drugs, we recommend the government introduce a new, health-based legislative framework for drug use. This framework should be based on the findings of an independent review on the potential for licensing, decriminalisation, legalisation, regulation and taxation of drugs in England and Wales.
We also recommend the expansion of drug diversion schemes, drug courts and Community Sentence Treatment Requirements, as well as evidence-based harm reduction measures, such as Overdose Prevention Centres (OPCs) and drug checking services, in order to make national progress on our drug policy.
In this response to the Prisons Strategy White Paper, we call on the government to reduce the prison population and divert its investment for new prison building into improving the existing prison estate. We also set out measures to better support people in or leaving prison with employment, family ties and resettlement.
In this response to the government’s consultation on a new Victims’ Bill, we set out measures to increase access to restorative justice; improve support for people in prison who have been victims of crime; improve specialist services for children, young adults and Black, Asian and minority ethnic people who have been victims of crime; and to enhance complaints processes.
In this response to Phase Two of the Strategic Review of Policing, the CJA discusses trust and confidence in policing, the need for improved internal and external scrutiny around the use of police powers, improving diversity in the police force, and what the future of policing might look like.
In this response to an inquiry from the Education Select Committee, the CJA draws on discussions with members to set out how education within prisons could be improved, and how individuals in prison could be better prepared for work after their release.
Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) will give the police the power to stop and search people who have previously been convicted of carrying a knife. The CJA strongly opposes the implementation of SVROs, which will not address the underlying reasons for reoffending and knife carrying, instead disrupting a person’s rehabilitative journey by encouraging officers to continuously stop and search them.
In this response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on Strengthening the Independent Scrutiny Bodies through Legislation, the CJA discusses how scrutiny bodies such as the Prison and Probation Ombudsman, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and Independent Monitoring Boards could be strengthened. The CJA also considers the advantages and disadvantages of England and Wales adopting the ‘Scottish Model’, where scrutiny is merged under one body.
In this submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee consultation on ‘The Macpherson Report: Twenty one years on’, we discuss the continued ethnic and racial disproportionality in the use of police powers. In the response, we focus on stop and search, the use of police force, disproportionate use of COVID-19 powers, the lack of independent scrutiny of policing, the lack of BAME representation in police forces, and more.
The CJA has responded to the Consultation on Improving the Victims’ Code. In our response, we call for a right for victims to be referred to a Restorative Justice service.
The CJA’s response to the Justice Select Committee’s inquiry on the ageing prison population.