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Criminal Justice – Addressing the Root Cause of Offending

Posted on: 6 June, 2024

The criminal justice system is at breaking point. From overcrowded prisons being described by the Inspectorate as ‘inhumane’ to extreme backlogs in clearing crown court cases, with some people waiting up to five years on remand. A functioning justice system is the heart of a socially just society and solutions must be found to address this shocking situation.

We cannot police our way out of it either – over 1 in 2 serving short prison sentences reoffend within a year. Policymakers must look to address the issue at the root cause to stop this cycle of crime which only creates more victims.

The use of pre- and post-arrest diversion schemes is an essential tool to reduce crime and save taxpayer money. The use of such schemes for low level crime, such as drug possession offences, must be formally rolled out to provide an intervention at every phase of the criminal justice system.

We know many of these cases involve either – and often both – domestic abuse or the use and sale of substances. Without addressing the root cause of issues, we will be fuelling the illicit drugs trade and making society less safe for women and girls by not holding perpetrators to account.

This is a serious responsibility for the next government, and our recommendations aim to provide a pathway to safer communities.

Darren Nicholas, Assistant Director of Criminal Justice at Cranstoun, said:

“Ahead of polling day on July 4th, Cranstoun is today publishing our criminal justice policy asks for candidates standing to represent their constituency in Westminster.

“There are several issues related to criminal justice policy that require immediate attention. From backlogs of people on remand waiting up to five years for a trial, to our overcrowded prisons and disproportionate representation of black men in the criminal justice system, our justice system is at breaking point.

“Furthermore, there are significant problems with the number of people who reoffend after committing a crime. We must see criminal justice through the lens of aiming to address the root cause of offending.

“The use of diversion and other preventative strategies must be central to solving these issues. We hope that these recommendations will provide the foundations for a Whole System approach to criminal justice policymaking.”

Here are our solutions:

  • Transform the response to victims of domestic abuse – from report to court and beyond.
  • Remove short-term prison sentences for non-violent offences.
  • Fully implement a nation-wide pre-arrest diversion scheme.
  • Invest in innovative use of Out of Court Disposals to address the root cause of offending.
  • Provide an intervention at every stage of the criminal justice system.
  • A whole system approach to substance use interventions, providing support at each point of the justice system.

View our full report and recommendations here

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