Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – House of Lords Second Reading Briefing
The Prison Reform Trust has prepared a briefing to assist Peers in the Second Reading debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is scheduled to take place on Monday 30 June.
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is the fourth Ministry of Justice-led criminal justice bill introduced by the Coalition Government. Following the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick’s recent warning of a “political and policy failure” in prison policy, it is difficult to understand why the government is introducing measures which will increase the size of the prison population, raise public costs and add significantly to the work of criminal justice agencies at a time when staff, resources and budgets are already overstretched.
The Bill has been allocated only five days in Committee despite its complexity and the addition of extra clauses during the House of Commons’ Committee and Report stages. Many of the provisions involve significant transfers of powers to the Secretary of State, limiting the discretion of operational managers and reducing scope for effective Parliamentary scrutiny. Plans for a 300-place secure college, housing boys and girls aged 12-17, along with mandatory prison sentences for knife possession, could drive up the numbers of children in custody following a welcome period of decline both in youth imprisonment and youth crime.