Justice Committee - weekly update

05 April 2019

At the end of sitting weeks the Justice Committee publishes a brief summary of its activities in the form of a weekly update.

This week (commencing 1 April 2019)

Report: ‘Prison Population 2022: planning for the future’

On Wednesday 3 April, we published the major report from our inquiry into prisons. We launched the inquiry in October 2017 to understand the prison population, and whether the Ministry of Justice and prison services have a credible approach to accommodating the changes anticipated in the makeup of this population.

The report concludes that the Government’s current approach to prison funding to accommodate growing population forecasts is inefficient, ineffective, and unsustainable in the medium or long-term. The Committee recommends that:

  • There should be an overarching strategy for reducing reoffending and a clear vision for what prisons will look like in the future.
  • The Government model the effects of abolishing sentences of fewer than 12 months.
  • The Ministry of Justice needs to acknowledge the challenge it faces and demonstrate that it has a long-term strategy to deal with prisoners with complex health and social needs.
  • The Ministry needs to develop a realistic, properly costed, long-term estate strategy that enables it to meet the needs of an ever-changing prison population.
  • Regimes need to be reported upon in a meaningful way to enable monitoring of their operations, which are key to rehabilitation.

You can read the full report here and the summary here.

The report’s press release, which contains our Chair’s full comments, can be found here.

Committee meetings

This week, the Committee met for two evidence sessions:

The work of the Solicitor General (2 April 2019)

On Tuesday 2 April, we took evidence on the work of the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP. The Solicitor General is one of the two Law Officers who advise the Government and the Crown; he is also deputy to the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP. We took evidence on various aspects of his role including:

  • How he works with the Attorney General
  • His work on the impact of social media on the administration of justice
  • Preparations for Brexit, including a No Deal Brexit
  • Priorities of his Office, and the bodies the Law Officers superintend (the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office).

You can watch the session and read the transcript.

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (3 April 2019)

On Wednesday 3 April, we held a one-off session with the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke MP, following publication of the Post-Implementation Review report of Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

We took evidence on:

  • The findings of the LASPO review, and the timing of the review of criminal legal aid
  • His views on our report on prisons published this week, including whether the government was considering introducing legislation on short custodial sentences
  • The adequacy of the current rehabilitation system
  • Inquests and the coronial system
  • MOJ funding, including for capital work and addressing the maintenance backlog.

You can watch the session and read the transcript.

Published correspondence

Future business

The Committee does not expect to meet in public in the weeks beginning 8th and 15th April.

Further information

Image: iStockPhoto

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