Criminal justice institutions – Government action
UK Government actions
- In June 2020, the UK Government partially or fully accepted many recommendations from an independent review of the use of pain-inducing techniques in the youth secure estate. One recommendation from the independent review was to amend the training programme for managing restraint to remove pain-inducing techniques from the core syllabus – it is now taught instead as a stand-alone element used in exceptional circumstances.
- In June 2020, the UK Government published a national framework for prison regimes and services for England and Wales setting out how coronavirus-related restrictions will be eased in prisons, it outlines five regime stages but does not set out a timeline for moving to less restricted stages. The national framework includes measures to reduce the risk of harm from restrictions, including prioritising face-to-face visits where possible.
- In April 2020, the UK Government published a policy paper and introduced laws to allow certain low-risk offenders to be temporarily released from prison in England and Wales, in light of the coronavirus pandemic – this included provisions for pregnant women and new mothers to be released.
- In April 2020, the UK Government provided an update on implementation of the recommendations of an independent review of race in the criminal justice system (the ‘Lammy Review’) – the UK Government’s commitments included setting up a Race and Ethnicity Board and publishing further data on race and ethnicity.
- In March 2020, NHS England achieved full national coverage of liaison and diversion services in police custody – the services identify people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they enter the criminal justice system so that appropriate support can be provided.
- In May 2019, the UK Government announced wide-ranging reforms to the Probation Service to take effect in June 2021, including commitments to make better use of pre-sentence reports and increase the use of community sentences as an alternative to custody. The Probation Service reforms marked the return of probation services to the public sector, under the National Probation Service (NPS) – previously, high-risk criminals were managed by the NPS, and low to medium risk offenders by private companies.
- In June 2018, the UK Government published a Female Offender Strategy recognising the impact of women’s imprisonment on their children and the links between female offending and experiences of abuse and trauma – it will receive funding of £3.5 million to support implementation. The Female Offender Strategy committed to reduce the number of women entering the criminal justice system, increase the use of non-custodial sentences, and improve conditions in the prison estate.
- In October 2018, the UK Government announced it would introduce PAVA spray in adult male closed prisons, to protect officers and improving prison safety. Following a legal challenge, it was agreed that procedural safeguards would be put in place before national roll-out of PAVA spray, but in May 2020, and in response to the pandemic, it was announced that PAVA spray would be rolled out to all such prisons without the agreed protections.
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on criminal justice institutions.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 15/09/2020