A coincidence, of course, that the Home Office's Criminal Justice Review
is published on the same day as the crime statistics. And in no way does the title, "Rebalancing the criminal justice in favour of the law-abiding majority" suggest that this review was driven by a tabloid agenda and already knew what its outcome was going to be.
Ah well. There's some interesting stuff in there, and also some things that will never happen or will never work, but look good on glossy paper. But in many ways, it's just old policies dressed up as new reforms - and sometimes not even slightly subtly. All the stuff about introduction of expertise from the private sector (i.e. privatisation or 'contestability') is still there. And, of course, there's our old friend Mr Target (who appears in some places as a "tough target"), as if telling a bunch of harrassed, stress professionals that they need to do a certain number of things in a certain kind of way, was any kind of a substitute for actually letting them do the job properly and effectively in individual cases.
There's a suggestion that probation officers could be given the power to vary the punishment an offender serves without having to go back to court
, which is a new one on me. Whilst the idea of giving someone an extra 50 hours of unpaid work because they swore at me was initially enticing, there are huge legal implications, and I doubt anything will come of this. I do quite fancy the idea of "practical 'myth-busting' advice and guidance to those working on the front line" about human rights, though I'd also like to see some 'myth-busting' through (and sometimes against) the media from a couple of ministers, rather than myth-pandering. The Human Rights Act will stay, you'll be glad to hear.
Wonderfully, there is a recognition that "The staff who work in the criminal justice system want to deliver a modern, simple and effective service without being overburdened by bureaucracy and regulation" (the Enforcer is not religious, but a heartfelt "Amen" nearly escaped there), and about a need for "smarter justice", i.e. treating different crimes differently. There's also more talk of making sure probation resources are focused on the more serious offenders, meaning that less serious offenders are fined instead of given community orders, and that courts are expected to ask for fewer pre-sentence reports (two trends that have been rising for many years now, so I'm not holding my breath). But there's a slightly weird-sounding focus on "gripping" offenders, which sounds rather industrial, but is probably just short-hand for "not losing them".
At first reading (and if I'm honest, there's not likely to be a second), it's all a bit of a mish-mash. But what did I expect? Comments, questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Tell 'em I sent ya.
Labels: community order, Home Office, victims