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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

May 13, 2005: Lord Woolf: Probation is "Key to Tackling Reoffending"

Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, delivered the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology's first Radzinowicz Lecture, on 'Making Sense of Sentencing', yesterday.

Lord Woolf stated that it was critical what happens to the offender following sentence, and welcomed the National Offender Management Service as it should “enable the Prison Service and the Probation Service, by working jointly… to achieve more than they could separately”. He argued that government needed to identify the resources to support sentencing policy over the next 4 years and then tailor policies to fit the resources available. As Lord Woolf put it:

“In the past policies have been embarked on without sufficient attention being paid to whether or not the resources (I am not only referring to financial resources) are in place to enable the policy to be successfully implemented.”

Lord Woolf also argued that there is only so much change that the criminal justice system could absorb at any one time, and what was now required was a period of consolidation. The system had reached the limit of the amount of change it can, for the time being, absorb. This was not, he argued:

“an expression of judicial conservatism. For the government to exercise the restraint in legislating I have suggested would be a radical change in government policy towards criminal justice. The government should decide to exercise a self denying ordinance and declare a closed season on sentencing legislation. I understand the desire to respond to public reaction over the latest horrendous crime. However, to resist this pressure would make a significant contribution to achieving the real gains that the government and judiciary would like to see.”

Probation was the key to tacking re-offending:

“If a community sentence, which is far less expensive, would be suitable for an offender, as a punishment for his crime and it would be constructive, it is wrong in principle to send him to prison. If there are no resources for drug treatment and training orders, it is pointless imposing such orders... The Probation Service is the key to tackling re-offending."

"This is so whether we are considering the person who is sentenced to a Community Sentence or the person who has been sentenced to imprisonment and is returning to the community. The role of the Probation Service is critical. We have to raise the standards of the Probation Service. The first priority is to improve their morale and effectiveness."

"We now have more police. As a result more offenders are going to come before the courts… We must now tackle what is not being achieved by sentences that the courts impose. We must make inroads into the abysmal re-offending rates. Success in doing this could transform the situation. Our efforts must not be deflected by the protests from those who ignore the reality of the situation we are in."

Lord Woolf considered that in future  imprisonment should be used primarily in 4 situations:

  1. Where imprisonment is essential for public protection.
  2. Where a crime's seriousness is such that it can only be marked by a significant prison sentence.
  3. A 'clang of the prison door' sentence i.e. a sentence to mark the serious nature of offending by a very short time in prison combined with other punishments.
  4. Where the crime itself does not make prison necessary but it becomes necessary as n offender refuses to comply with other sentences.

Lord Woolf argued for the following measures to bring “sense into sentencing”:

  • Developing a consensus as to what resources should be available to the criminal justice system and ensuring that those resources are used in the manner which is most likely to provide the best protection for the public.
  • Using the platform that Parliament and the Government have now provided to halt the continuing rise in the use of imprisonment and instead confining imprisonment primarily for the most serious offences and, in particular, for violent and dangerous offenders;
  • Making the broad range of community punishments really meaningful so that they prevent re-offending and inspire confidence in the public;
  • Providing more extensive drug and other substance abuse testing and training;
  • Relying more on properly enforced fines and the confiscation of the proceeds of crime.
  • Avoiding further legislation except when it is absolutely necessary so as provide the courts and NOMS with the opportunity they need to absorb the changes that have been made and deliver an effective criminal justice system.