Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



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

November 20, 2007: England's Longest-Serving Prisoner Dies

The longest serving inmate in the UK prison system has died, a total of 55 years after he murdered three young girls. John Straffen was aged 77 when he died, reportedly of natural causes, in HMP Frankland, County Durham.

In 1951 he murdered Brenda Goddard, aged 6. Some days later he murdered Cicely Batstone, who was 9 years old. In October 1951 he was charged with the murders of the two girls but considered unfit to plead and was detained in Broadmoor. The judge at his trial had announced to the jury that:

"In this country we do not try people who are insane. You might as well try a baby in arms. If the man cannot understand through insanity what is going on and is unable to tell his counsel what his defence is, we do not try him."

Straffen was declared insane and was sent to Broadmoor. He escaped in April 29, 1952 and though only free for four hours, he murdered 5 year old Linda Bowyer during that short period. All three victims were strangled. Medical opinion concluded that on this occasion he was fit to plead.

Straffen was sentenced to death. The then Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe subsequently commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Straffen was considered to be, in the language of the time, “feeble minded” and there was some public feeling that he could not be held responsible for his actions. However, he did not return to Broadmoor but served the rest of his sentence in various prisons. He reportedly had a mental age of approximately ten years.