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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

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

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Ken Clarke has given a speech on criminal justice reform at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. This is the conclusion of the speech.

Sentencing reform

This radical new approach to prisons and rehabilitation will come to nothing if it isn’t supported by a clear, coherent sentencing framework.
In my opinion, the current legal framework is over complicated, confusing and somewhat disingenuous.
Sentences pronounced in court often bear no clear resemblance to the time actually served in prison, and they are not clear explanations to the public and to the victim of the penalty that is actually being imposed.
It creates a sense of injustice when criminals spend much less time in prison than specified by the court. And it undermines public confidence in criminal justice. That must be changed.
Sentencing needs to be consistent, honest and transparent for the public, for victims of crime and for people working in the system.
So the Government will look in more detail over the coming months at the sentencing frameworks for adult and young offenders, as well as the full range of penalties available in the criminal justice system.
We will explore in particular proposals to restore public trust through minimum / maximum sentencing. Under this system, offenders would serve a minimum period in prison set as the minimum punishment by the judge in court. They would not be eligible for release before then. The judge would also set a maximum period, and offenders would have to earn any release before that point.
This will also give us the chance to look at whether we’ve got the balance right in recent years between ensuring a certain level of consistency in sentencing across the country, while giving judges the discretion they need to consider all the evidence that they hear of the circumstances of the case. We now have sentencing guidelines of a kind we did not have before. How far have sentencing guidelines been an aid to consistent justice? And how far are they in danger of becoming an over rigid response to what is actually a wide range of circumstances in individual cases?
I think it’s fair to say I have a great deal of faith in judicial discretion. The difference between a judge and a member of the public or a politician is that judges listen to hours and hours of evidence before they make a decision. In a particular case, they actually know far more about the detail of a case, far more about the evil of the offender than we ever could just by reading the red tops.
So our assessment will look at sentencing generally, sentencing guidelines, and also at community penalties as well as imprisonment. These are a crucial part of the sentencing framework. They can be a tough, effective way of making offenders turn away from crime and protecting the public. I am aware that for years successive Governments have tried to make community penalties more tough and effective. I’m also aware that the public are still not convinced that they are as effective as prison.
It is not a new problem at all. It was a problem when I was at the Home Office all those years ago. But we really have to address this. We also have to ensure that the form of community penalties we’re using are doing the job, and that they are as effective as prison and more effective if used in the right cases.
Now those magistrates and judges among you know far better than I do how – and indeed whether – we are getting nearer to the desirable goal of having tough and effective community penalties.
I want to hear the views of the judiciary and the citizen JPs who dispense justice in our magistrates’ courts.
When you have handed out community penalties, have you found them to be effective? If so, which ones? If not, why not? What was wrong with them?
Are all the orders you would like to impose available in your area of jurisdiction? Which ones would you like to see more of? Which have you found to be most effective?
I’m afraid I certainly cannot promise that we will be investing vast amounts of public money into non-custodial sentences across the country. This is simply not possible in the present financial crisis. But I would genuinely like to hear what those people most responsible for the punishment of crime think about how the system is working and whether it needs to change.
If we can’t make necessary improvements now with the money available, we will think carefully again about how we could encourage other partners and other people in the community to help – perhaps, yet again, through the payment by results system I have already mentioned.


These are my first thoughts on entering office. I find it an absolutely fascinating field. The reason I enjoy this role is not because it takes me back to my roots as a lawyer, but because I am engaged in a very serious subject, one which actually matters to society and the fabric of society. And I am conscious of being charged with very serious responsibilities in the areas upon which I have just touched.
We are rightly proud of the justice system in this country, even if many of us are critical of many of the details. It is actually crucial to the creation and preservation of a safe and civilised society.
Spending more and more of other people’s money to try to prove that you are tackling a problem is, I am afraid, a favourite habit of too many politicians. It is a bad habit that I have always tried to avoid. But spending less if you have to must not mean damaging criminal justice, and if we are sophisticated and intelligent in what we do we will not cause harm.
In fact, we want to be so radical that we spend less and do things better at the same time. We want to improve the way we punish offenders and protect the public.
We hope to set out more detail in a Green Paper in the autumn and then to establish through consultation an effective and honest approach to sentencing and a radical new approach to rehabilitation. We hope it will lead to a coherent package of legislation perhaps in the second Parliamentary session.
So I believe today marks a change of direction; undoubtedly it is a break with the recent past.
In my opinion the failure of the past has been to use tough rhetoric and to avoid taking tough decisions that might prove unpopular in the short term. I am determined to make the right decisions. And I hope to deliver results that will deserve your support.

Thank you.