The Criminal Justice Management Conference took place on the 19th September 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre and gave a warm welcome to its delegates and exhibitors with a tightly packed agenda consisting of leading speakers discussing the latest policies and changes within the Criminal Justice System.
Chair of the conference, Lord Ramsbotham, GCB, CBE and Co-Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Penal Affairs and APPG for Learning & Skills welcomed delegates to the plenary with his reflective opening remarks of the criminal justice system, exchanging his views surrounding the Prisons and Courts Bill under David Cameron, the importance of rehabilitation and reducing reoffending with reference to Lord Woolfs 2015 Report.
The review of outcomes and deliverables of the “Prison Safety and Reform” White Paper was delivered by first speaker Justin Russell, Director General for Offender Reform and Commissioning Group for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Justin reflected on the history of prisons stating prisoners served shorter sentences and committed less violent and non-sexual crimes. However, in recent years assaults on prison staff has had an increase of 43%, self-harm has increased by over a quarter and the numbers of suicides has had an increase of 13% since September 2016. Prisons hold four main purposes according to the White Paper to protect the public, be places of safety and order, reform and rehabilitate offenders and prepare prisoners for release into the community which aim to be delivered through accountability, empowerment and investment stated Justin. With reference to digital technology, Russell introduced a key theme to the delegates which was heavily discussed throughout the course of the day.
Charlie Taylor, Chair of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) delivered the Morning Keynote discussing how the YJB aim to keep young people out of custody with relevant teaching amongst schools developing the production of safe schools. Introducing the joining up of data as a service across the public sector and the challenges of law enforcement data, Mark Goossens, Client Director at the Home Office and Police; IBM introduced delegates to the poor quality, unstructured, political and financial difficulties that sharing data holds momentarily. The desire for prison cultures to deliver a user-centric service was expressed by Lisa Barret, Director for Data Driven Department and Culture Change at the MoJ who wants to create a culture of the correct data and information to make decisions whilst putting reliable evidence at the heart of the justice system. This aims to be done by breaking down the current prison network, probation operating models and fundamental behavioural components. Drawing a close to the morning session, a panel discussion led by Nazir Afzal, Colin Parry OBE, and Hanif Qadir focused on the rise of radicalisation and how prisons should respond to this. Radicalisation is seen as an addiction and therefore there needs to be a change within prisons for segregation to de-radicalise extremists and break down gang mentality.
Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) introduced the discussion of how the criminal justice system can be modernised through a £700m investment to reform and modernise the courts and tribunal system. This is in addition to £270m being made available to develop a fully connected criminal courtroom by 2020 changing a paper based system to a digital system creating streamlined case management to secure the storage of data. ubsequent to Susan Acland-Hood, the announcement of a £11m Video Enabled Justice (VEJ) initiative by Katy Bourne, Police & Crime Commissioner at Sussex Police will be piloted across London and the south east using a network of high-tech video links in police stations and allowing officers the ability to give evidence direct to the courts without any requirements of travel. Education within prisons became a subject matter as Dame Sally Coates DBE, Nina Champion and Ex-Offender LJ Flanders led the second panel discussion of the day. Literacy levels are at an all-time low within prisons which is why education is to become a priority alongside skill development stated Dame Sally Coates DBE. Nina Champion expressed her views that learning courses such as GCSEs, A Levels and degree course should be widely available for offenders to gain qualifications allowing prisoners to be citizens after prison. L.J. Flanders, Former Inmate of HMP Pentonville and Author of ‘The Cell Workout’ sparked a business idea in prison where he produced the work cell exercise programme which is now found on book shelves. L.J. Flanders stated that helping prisoner’s start a business is an effective form of rehabilitation and points to reduced reoffending rates amongst those who embark on the entrepreneurship programmes offered to inmates.
Technology and innovation are changing the way businesses work within prisons, a key theme touched on in the afternoon seminar and speaker sessions. Paul Yates impressed delegates with the new concept of fingerprint drug testing that reduce toxicology bills, saving time and distress and in some cases eliminates the need for a post mortem examination. Dame Glenys Stacey DBE delivered the afternoon keynote, proposing the question do probation services deliver what we all want and expect. The keynote confirmed that Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) are set to run by 2020, which will be responsible for helping prisoners to prepare for released and resettlement into the community. It was also addressed that the government must pay attention to funding issues and must create a strategy of how probation services are going to be successfully delivered. David Matthews, Prison Governor of Guernsey Prison announced the innovative development of a sky fence system at Guernsey prison to eliminate illegal drone activity. The sky fence is part of a £1.7m security upgrade programme to enhance the prisons security putting a stop to all illegal contraband entering prisons. HMP Thameside Prison was used as a case study by Craig Thomson who expressed that the development of modern and innovative cells can reduce reoffending. There are also three key areas alongside the development of modern cells that prisoners need to strengthen the team, create a safe ambience and provide care and continuity within HMP Thameside Prison.
Lord Ramsbotham concluded the day’s events reflecting on the key issues debated and discussed whilst focusing on what the future holds for the criminal justice system. A drinks reception shortly followed giving delegates, exhibitors and staff the chance to communicate on a more personal level.
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