We welcome important work by the Secretary of State for Justice to explore a reduction in the use of short prison sentences.
The Ministry of Justice’s Single Departmental Plan 2019-22 (June 2019) sets out a clear commitment to “develop options for restricting the use of short custodial sentences” as part of the department’s published aim to reduce the use of prison and increase the use of community sentences and alternative sentences. The ambition to reduce the use of short prison sentences is a core tenet of the Female Offender Strategy and the Probation reforms. It is business as usual in Ministry of Justice plans and strategies.
The remaining question is now how to make this work in practice. We would therefore be disappointed if plans to consult on this were postponed. Reducing the use of short sentences is critical to delivering the probation reforms, reducing reoffending and to addressing the crisis in our prisons exacerbated by high churn of people in and out every day.
There is strong sector consensus on the need for reform. The majority of public think people with drug or alcohol addictions belong in treatment programmes instead of prison. 70% of MPs support the introduction of a new presumption against short sentences of less than 6 months for non-violent offences. Devolved administrations, including Manchester, are taking action.
We urge the new Prime Minister to progress the consultation with urgency in order to turn your aim into tangible change on the ground. Restricting the use of short sentences for non-violent offences would reduce crime, reduce victims and save lives.
Christina Marriott, Chief Executive, Revolving Doors Agency
David Munro, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey
Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire Commissioner: Police-Fire & Rescue, Crime
David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire
Frances Crook, Chief Executive, Howard League for Penal Reform
Peter Dawson, Director, Prison Reform Trust
Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Nacro
Rob Owen OBE, Chief Executive, St Giles Trust
Anne Fox, Chief Executive, Clinks
Kate Paradine, Chief Executive, Women in Prison
Rt Rev James Langstaff, Lead Anglican Bishop for Prisons
Rt Rev Richard Moth, Lead Catholic Bishop for Prisons
Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation
Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive, Leap Confronting Conflict
Andy Keen-Downs, Chief Executive, PACT
Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health
Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice
Anna Herrmann, Co-Director, Clean Break
Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive, Agenda
Nina Champion, Director, Criminal Justice Alliance
Rose Mahon, Head of Excellence and Development, the Nelson Trust
Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive, Probation Institute
Dominique Airey, Chief Executive, Khulisa