This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Power down (or is it up?)

I am not sure I can be bothered to read the whole of the new report just published by Policy Exchange which is called "Power Down: A plan for a cheaper, more effective justice system". You may ask why given that colleagues have already blogged about and linked to it, and it is currently appearing on the front page of the BBC news site.

Well: Policy Exchange describes itself as:
Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum. Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be completely independent and make workable policy recommendations.
The executive summary of the new report begins with the words:
Despite the cutbacks of recent years, England and Wales still has one of the most expensive criminal justice systems in the world.
We do? Where is the evidence base for that assertion? By expensive are the authors trying to suggest that it is inefficient? Google defines 'expensive' as 'costing a lot of money' and with synonyms such as 'costly - dear - sumptuous - valuable - pricey - rich'. Is this what the authors mean? And if it is, where is the reference / research to back up this claim? I cannot find any, though I am happy to be pointed to the right footnote in the text. But if they meant that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world and spends a proportionate amount of money on its justice system... they could have said so.

But as it stands, this kind of flim flam claptrap does nothing for the 'authority and credibility' of Policy Exchange. I hope they know that.

But please do read report yourself, I will be interested in your conclusions. I skimmed it and found some interesting statements such as:
Outsourcing of probation: The Government is about to begin the process of outsourcing around 80% of probation work to the private sector, as part of bold reforms to introduce payment-by-results to rehabilitative services and to extend supervision of prisoners to offenders sentenced to fewer than 12 months in custody.
Hmm. And there was I thinking this outsourcing might end up contracting with 3rd sector or charitable bodies. It is good to know the truth...

Or there is this:
The need for a clear and shared vision in government: These tactical issues can largely be explained by the fact that PCCs are new. But they are driven, in part, by a strategic problem. It is apparent that there is not yet any real clarity within the Government as a whole about the importance to attach to the PCC role, nor how its relationship within the criminal justice system (and more widely) should evolve over time.
So despite Policy Exchange citing all the 'authoritative' reports it has produced over several years where it has outlined, proposed and shaped the role of the PCC, there is no 'real clarity within the Government... about the importance to attach to the PCC'. And this is also despite the fact that the model was discussed widely by the Conservative Party & many others before 2010, features in 'The Plan' by Hannan & Carswell (also widely read by the government) and indeed was in the Party's manifesto and later the coalition agreement.

I could go on, but hey, you can read the full report yourself. In the meantime, I was a little curious about the charitable body that funded (in part or in whole) the 'research' and publication of this report. In the acknowledgements section, the authors say:
Special thanks go to the Hadley Trust for their support for this project.
So I looked up the Hadley Trust on the Charity Commission website. On here the trust's objectives are shown as:
primarily, but not exclusively, to assist in creating opportunities for people who are disadvantaged to improve their situation, either by financial assistance, involvement in project and support work or research into the causes of, and means to alleviate, hardship.
Given how tough it has been for some PCCs so far, perhaps this report will go someway towards alleviating their hardship. Perhaps... 

1 comment:

  1. Stewart Richardson22/8/13 12:02

    I e-mailed the Cheshire Commissioner asking for publication of location of resources, crimes committed, crimes solved in Cheshire.This would hopefully show where the money is being spent and why and what outcomes were achieved. The answer was look at what we publish (you can only find crimes per postcode). Giving the police more power to be less accountable seems contrary to democracy given the percentage of people who DIDN'T vote for them