Criminal justice institutions – Government action
UK Government actions
- In September 2021, the UK Government published a new policy to support the needs of perinatal women and mothers in prison, including funding for specialist liaison officers in women’s prisons.
- In June 2021, low to medium-risk probation services were returned to the public sector under the Probation Service. Previously, they were managed by private companies.
- In May 2021, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) published the ‘Race Equality in Probation: Action plan’, which agreed to most of the recommendations made by HM Inspectorate of Probation on improving the experience of ethnic minority probation service users and staff. It followed a similar action plan from December 2020, which agreed to all the recommendations from a review of ethnic minority prisoners’ experiences of rehabilitation and release planning.
- In March 2021, the UK Government introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, following publication of its ‘A Smarter Approach to Sentencing’ white paper in September 2020. Among other measures, the bill contains provisions to significantly increase the time offenders (both adults and children) spend in prison for a number of crimes.
- In January 2021, the UK Government announced that 500 new places would be built for women in existing prisons, while also committing £2 million to support community services that work with vulnerable women to steer them away from crime. This followed an initial allocation of £2.5 million announced in 2020.
- In June 2020, in response to the pandemic, the five-stage National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services was introduced. Between June 2020 and July 2021 prisons in England and Wales operated under stage five, or ‘complete lockdown’, conditions.
- In May 2020, the UK Government announced the exceptional deployment of PAVA incapacitant pepper spray (used for restraint) to all adult male closed prisons during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; this was before agreed safeguards to prevent inappropriate or disproportionate use were put in place. The safeguards had been agreed following a legal challenge in 2019. HMPPS is working towards implementing the safeguards and other improvements, including developing a new use of force policy framework.
- In April 2020, the UK Government introduced two prisoner-release schemes during the coronavirus pandemic. One allowed certain low-risk offenders to be temporarily released before their automatic release dates, while the other targeted vulnerable prisoners, pregnant women and new mothers. Both schemes have since been paused.
- In April 2020, the UK Government provided an update on implementation of the recommendations of the independent Lammy Review of racial disparity in the criminal justice system. The UK Government’s commitments included setting up a Race and Ethnicity Board and publishing further data on race and ethnicity, which was ongoing.
- In March 2020, NHS England achieved full national coverage of liaison and diversion services in police custody. These services identify people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they enter the criminal justice system so that they receive appropriate support.
- In July 2019, the UK Government published guidance on the care and management in custody of transgender people.
- In June 2018, the UK Government published its 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. The strategy commits 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.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 30/09/2021