David Gauke – 2019 Speech on Sentencing

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Secretary of State for Justice, on 18 July 2019.

It’s great to be here and can I thank Edelman for providing the venue and Social Market Foundation for hosting and thank you all for coming today.

Gathered in this room there is a wealth of wisdom, expertise and experience of our justice system. You all share, as I do, a deep commitment and passion for reform to ensure justice in this country is delivered in an effective and fair way.

I want to thank you for your dedication and for the valuable work you do and the different perspectives you bring.

In my last major speech on justice reform in February, I spoke about how we need to look beyond prison, move away from short custodial sentences and towards more effective alternatives in the community that better target the causes of offending.

Since then, we’ve continued to build the evidence base for what works and lay the groundwork for delivering that, for example, with fundamental reform of the probation system.

Today, as we publish the latest set of research and statistics on reoffending, it seems timely to update you on the work we have been doing and to take stock of where we are and what, I believe, our direction of travel should be.

Rehabilitation as the best route to reducing reoffending

There is one stark fact facing us: three quarters of all crime that results in a caution or sentence happens because of reoffending.

We must be fearless in dealing with this.

Whilst long prison sentences will always be right for those who commit the most serious crimes, particularly of a violent or sexual nature, the fact is that the vast majority of all offenders will at some point be released. Most people who go to prison are there for a matter of months or weeks. Last year, for example, sentences of 12 months or less accounted for over two thirds of all immediate custodial sentences.

I believe the public therefore expect the justice system to focus on rehabilitation to reduce the risk of subsequent offending – and the likelihood of them becoming a victim of crime.

That means prison and serving a sentence is not an end in itself, but it is a means to an end, a means to make society safer. We need to punish for a purpose.

Only by successfully rehabilitating offenders so they don’t commit a crime when they are released will we prevent more crime and more victims of crime.

The new evidence

When I became Justice Secretary in January 2018, I didn’t have a pre-conceived view on short sentences. But I wanted to see and understand the evidence.

I wanted to know what the real cost of reoffending is to our society. Our new research today has found it is over £18 billion a year.

I also wanted to know whether short prison sentences are actually the best way to keep us safe and prevent reoffending.

The latest evidence suggests that if all offenders who currently receive prison sentences of less than six months were given a community order instead, we estimate that there would be around 32,000 fewer proven reoffences a year. That’s an estimated 13% fewer proven reoffences for this cohort.

That’s not just a statistic, that’s thousands fewer actual victims; and it’s safer streets and safer communities.

And I’ve wanted to understand why a particular group in society find themselves more likely to be moving in and out of prison again and again.

Today’s research helps us to see past the offence to the person and the complex needs that contribute to keeping them trapped in a cycle of crime.

Over two thirds of those in prison for six months or less have a drug misuse problem. 72% lack the skills and motivation to get or hold down a job. 60% do not have a stable or suitable place to live. These are the problems we need to address to have a meaningful impact on reoffending rates.

But when offenders only serve short custodial sentences of up to six months, the median time spent in prison is just 6 weeks. This just isn’t enough time for any effective rehabilitation to take place to successfully tackle these problems.

Ultimately, that short spell in prison doesn’t protect the public, doesn’t serve as much of a deterrent and exacerbates those already deep-rooted difficulties the individual faces.

The research we have published today compared offenders who went to prison against a similar cohort who received a community order. For those with non-custodial sentences, we can do more to address these problems around addiction and housing and reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

Moving away from short prison sentences

So this latest research has further reinforced my view that moving away from prison sentences up to six months would deliver real and positive change, for the offenders to turn their lives around and for the safety of the public.

There are different ways that you might achieve this: a bar to prevent the courts using them, or a less prescriptive presumption against their use. Or you could consider combining these options, applying a presumption to sentences of up to 12 months and with a bar for up to six months. I think there’s a strong case to explore this, given the evidence.

But for any bar on short sentences, I’ve always said that there should be exceptions.

Our first responsibility must be to the victims of crime and we should not do anything to compromise their safety. For this reason, I’d argue a bar should not apply to offences of physical or sexual assault, so that in the right cases courts will be able to impose a short prison sentence.

Another consideration is upholding the authority of the court. There are several offences which involve a disregard for court orders or its authority, where the possibility of a short sentence should, in my view, be retained.

For those repeat offenders who have been given community orders and who wilfully and persistently fail to comply with them, they need to know that they cannot get away with it with impunity. We must also ensure that we do not do anything that would put at risk the security of the wider public. We will need to consider, therefore, what other offences raise significant issues of public protection where a short prison sentence should continue to be an option. Given the acute problems with knife crime in cities like London, knife possession could be one such offence.

I believe this is a balanced, considered and, crucially, evidence-based approach to sentencing policy. It will help reduce crime and result, therefore, in fewer victims of crime. And I would hope that the next Prime Minister would continue with this reform agenda.

Probation reform

However, crucial to the success of any reform of sentencing is a strong probation system. Two months ago, I announced plans to reform our probation system, which will allow for much more robust community sentences and that will command the confidence of the courts.

We will be ending Community Rehabilitation Company contracts early and streamlining responsibilities for public, private and voluntary sector partners.

That means a stronger role for the National Probation Service in managing all offenders, greater voluntary sector involvement in rehabilitation, and the private sector leading where it has specialist expertise and experience and where it can support innovation in rehabilitating offenders and organising Unpaid Work placements.

A strengthened probation system will significantly improve the services that have been shown to help turn offenders away from crime – be it housing support, help finding a job, or help to turn away from drink or drugs or treat mental health issues.

This will build confidence that conditions set by the courts are enforced when people leave prison, and that for those who receive community sentences, tough enforcement is paired with targeted support and services that tackle the root causes behind the crime.

We have seen how partnership working at a local level can offer effective alternatives to custody. I’m keen to work with the judiciary and others in the criminal justice system to learn from, as well as pilot, alternatives to custody to inform our approach nationally.

At the same time, we are successfully rolling out GPS tagging to better monitor offenders and make sure offenders are adhering to the terms of their sentence or licence conditions. The findings from the pilot we ran found that most offenders felt wearing a tag would help them make positive changes in their lives.

Building on the success of this we are also planning to roll out a variation of this service for children in the autumn to support children in their efforts to turn their lives around.

Technology, like GPS tagging, will help to give judges and magistrates more confidence to use community sentences in more cases.

And I’m ambitious about what we can do in the future – using new technology and thinking innovatively about how we can both punish and rehabilitate in the community.

Through our probation reforms – and with some bold thinking about what community sentences look like in the future – we will see a successful shift away from ineffective short prison sentences towards more effective ways of rehabilitating offenders.

I hope that when it comes to a Spending Review in due course that funding effective community sentences is made a priority given the costs it can save down the line.

Prison reform to rehabilitate

Finally, I do think it’s important to recognise that prison will always be right for some people.

So, we need safe, secure and decent prisons. Instigated with huge determination and energy by Rory Stewart, the then Prisons Minister, the Ten Prisons Project, has focussed on improving standards in some of our most challenged prisons, alongside securing extra urgent funding and measures to tackle drugs and violence across the estate and significantly increasing the number of prison officers.

But we also need to create a real culture of rehabilitation and opportunity in prisons.

For example, we are funding a pilot that will make befriending services available via in-cell telephony, with the aim of decreasing prisoner isolation, improving mental health and ultimately facilitating rehabilitation, in line with the findings of the Farmer review. We’ve also recently introduced a new approach to incentivising prisoners that helps them to make the right choices to get on the path to rehabilitation.

And I was proud to launch the Education and Employment Strategy last year putting education, skills and jobs at the heart of prison regimes.

As well as helping those in prison prepare for work, I have also been keen to remove barriers and tackle prejudice that ex-offenders all too often face in trying to get a job.

As I announced this week, we intend to legislate so that for the first time, some sentences of more than four years will no longer have to be disclosed to employers after an appropriate period of time has passed.

These are all important reforms of which I am very proud. They will, respectively and collectively, help make our prisons safer places where rehabilitation can take root and help provide opportunities for ex-offenders – simultaneously enriching our society and making us all safer.


The first duty of government is to keep its citizens safe. That includes tackling crime and reducing the number of victims of crime.

Punishing criminal behaviour is a crucial part of doing that. Whether through prison, community sentences or fines, offenders must face justice. And justice works best when punishment and rehabilitation are balanced and the cycle of crime is broken.

In doing this, we need to be guided by a clear assessment of the facts rather than saying what we think people want to hear. Today’s further research helps us to do that.

Let me be clear: I don’t want to see softer justice; I want to deliver smarter justice where offenders serve sentences that punish but also make them less likely to reoffend.

I believe that the approach that I’ve set out today – indeed the approach I have set out in the last 18 months – is one that is most likely to be effective in reducing reoffending and therefore reducing crime.

I am aware that it is an approach that will not have universal support but I have taken great encouragement from the widespread support for an evidence-led, rehabilitative and humane agenda.

It is my hope that in the years ahead – whoever has the privilege of being Justice Secretary – it is an approach that will be pursued with persistence and determination and courage. And that it will help deliver a safer and more civilised society.

David Gauke – 2019 Statement on the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

Below is the text of the statement made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 25 June 2019.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Marriage will always be one of our most important institutions. It is vital to our functioning as a society, as we all know instinctively from our own lives and from the lives of family and friends. Rightly, then, none of us is indifferent when a lifelong commitment cannot continue, but it cannot be right for the law to create or increase conflict between divorcing couples.

I am encouraged by the many colleagues and others who have told me that the law must change to take unnecessary conflict flashpoints out of the legal process. Like me, they believe in the importance of marriage but see the destructive effects of what the law demands. People going through divorce already have to face more than enough emotional upheaval without the conflict that can be created or worsened by how the current law works.

I have reflected at length on the arguments for reform, on what people have said in response to the Government’s proposals and on the painful experiences we all know from talking to family and friends. I have heard from people who have been through divorce, from people who support divorcing couples through the legal process and from people who say they cannot afford to live apart for two years—without finally sorting out their finances—but, at the same time, cannot bring themselves to throw hurtful allegations.

The Bill responds constructively to the keenly felt experience of people’s real lives. This is a Bill for anyone who agrees that the end of a relationship should be a time of reflection, and not of manufactured conflict.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

I warmly congratulate the Government and the Secretary of State on introducing this Bill. I think I have married more people than anybody else in this House, in the transitive use of the word. I was always painfully aware that, when two people come together, it may well be that, in the end, they need to part, but the idea that they would have to prove in court all sorts of reasons for why the marriage had fallen apart—relying on the common law understanding of adultery, for instance—is just nonsense and adds to the sense of pain that there could already be within a family.

Mr Gauke

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks, and this Bill is by no means anti-marriage. As he rightly says, this Bill seeks to ensure that, in those unfortunate circumstances where a marriage comes to an end, it comes to an end in a way that minimises the conflict between the parties. That, in my view, has to be a sensible way forward.

Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con)

There is undoubtedly fault in a divorce but, in my experience from continual exposure at constituency surgeries, the attribution of that fault leads parents to use their children as weapons in a continuing battle with their former partner.

Mr Gauke

My right hon. Friend makes a good point, and it is worth bearing in mind that, where children are involved, it is all the more important that we minimise ​the conflict. The current requirement incentivises that sense of attribution of fault, which does nothing to ensure that the relationship between the two parents can be as strong as possible, and it is the children who lose out in those circumstances.

Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)

I have thought about this with care. Obviously, to practising Christians and those of other faiths, the end of a marriage is not to be taken lightly, but I am glad the Secretary of State has accepted the proposition put by my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) that causing more conflict at the end does not help.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that in no other respects any of the protections for often the more vulnerable party to a marriage, the woman, will be affected by this measure, particularly in relation to financial arrangements and the custody of children, and that it simply removes the evidentiary requirement for a fault to be attributed to one side or the other?

Mr Gauke

My hon. Friend, the Chair of the Select Committee on Justice, is right. This is about the attribution of blame and fault, and no more than that. Indeed, the protections in place for the vulnerable party remain just as they are. It is often the vulnerable party who suffers most from the need to attribute blame, because that can be difficult. In the context of domestic abuse, for example, it is striking how the likes of Women’s Aid have been very supportive of these measures because of their concern that there might be women trapped in marriages who do not want to attribute blame because they feel that may result in a further deterioration in the relationship.

The truth is that when a marriage or indeed a civil partnership has sadly broken down and is beyond repair, it stops benefiting society and the people involved. At worst, continuing in a legal relationship that is no longer functioning can be destructive to families, and the law ought to deal with the reality of marriage breakdown as constructively as possible. The current law does not do that. The requirements of the divorce process at present can often give rise to a confrontational position, even if the decision to divorce is mutual. The incentive to make allegations at the outset, to avoid otherwise waiting for two years’ separation, becomes ingrained. Divorce is traumatic, and children are inevitably affected when their parents separate—that goes without saying. I agree that marriage has long proved its worth for bringing up children, but the reality is that not all marriages last. The law should deal with that reality as sensibly as it can. When a marriage has failed, we have to take a serious look at how to reduce conflict for everyone involved, not least for children. Research shows that it is conflict between the parents that has been linked to greater social and behavioural problems among children, rather than necessarily the separation and divorce itself.

Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab)

I very much welcome the proposals in this Bill. Getting rid of the fault-based approach to divorce and the conflict is a good thing, as is ensuring that people do not have to wait for two years. Does the Secretary of State agree with me and with Resolution, the organisation for family lawyers, that we also need to provide earlier ​advice for cohabitees who believe that common law spousal rights might exist for them? Legal advice on whether such rights exist would be beneficial. Does he agree that including provision for early advice in the Bill would be welcome?

Mr Gauke

Obviously, this Bill’s focus is on divorce for those who are married. There is a point about advice where we can have a wider debate. I will focus my remarks today on the contents of the Bill and the argument I am making about the problems with fault in the current divorce system, and I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s support on that. Clearly, there is a debate to be had as to how we can provide support to couples, be that about reconciliation or in other contexts.

Whatever family structure children grow up in, they benefit most from stable, loving and caring relationships with parents and other close family members. We are clear that when parents have taken this difficult decision, children’s best interests are served by minimising conflict during and after the legal process, to support co-operative parenting and positive parenting relationships. This Bill is in the best interests of children whose parents are divorcing. It will therefore remove the harmful requirement for wives, husbands and civil partners in England and Wales to hurl blame or to go through the waiting limbo of separate lives. It will help them move forward more amicably and constructively. It will make a genuine difference to many thousands of children and families who each year, sadly, experience divorce.

It is 50 years since the Divorce Reform Act 1969 gave rise to the law we now have, and few of us will have known anything else. Some among us will have divorced under this law. All of us will be conscious of the bitter experience of friends and constituents who have. Even so, the existing law is not always understood. It allows divorce only on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The court cannot hold the marriage to have done so unless it is satisfied of one or more of what the law calls “facts”. Three of the five facts—adultery, behaviour and desertion—relate to conduct of the respondent. The other facts are two years’ separation and five years’ separation, the difference being that two years’ separation requires both parties to agree to the divorce—the same applies to civil partnerships, except that the adultery fact is not available. But the fact someone chooses does not necessarily bear any resemblance to the real reasons the marriage or civil partnership broke down. Those reasons are often subtle, complex, and subjective. Who, if anyone, was responsible is a question that can be answered honestly only by the people in the marriage.

We are probably all aware of situations where a couple have sadly grown apart over time and jointly agree to divorce The current law does not allow them to do so, unless they are first financially able to live apart for two years. They might be forced to present events in a way that serves the system; minor incidents become stretched out into a pattern of behaviour to satisfy a legal threshold, which then bleeds over into how a couple approach negotiations over arrangements for children and finances; or there may be a coercive relationship, where one partner is desperate to divorce but is too scared of the consequences of setting out the ​evidence of their partner’s unreasonable behaviour to the court. It should be enough that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.

I do know where people are coming from when they say the requirement to prove a fact is useful, because they think that someone must be held responsible for the break-up of the marriage and that this requirement lets the court determine blame for that. The court, however, cannot do so, and the law does not require it to. Instead, making allegations or having to live apart in a marriage introduces conflict or makes it worse—this conflict can continue far beyond the legal end of the marriage and hurt children’s life chances. That is the reason for this reform.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con)

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for the careful way in which he is taking us through these proposals and for his indication of support for marriage. Will he look, perhaps in the context of this Bill, at supporting marriages before they have broken down irretrievably and providing support where couples are under pressure, in order to reduce marital breakdown by intervening earlier?

Mr Gauke

The last two words, “intervening earlier” are key. Once the point of a divorce is reached, it is likely—the evidence suggests this—that it is too late. The question is: can we provide support earlier? In all honesty, I do not believe that the Bill provides the vehicle to address that point, because if we try to provide that support in the context of the divorce itself, we will be too late. Clearly however there is an argument—one that I suspect is for the next spending review—as to what assistance can be provided to couples at an earlier stage in the process. I completely understand where my hon. Friend is coming from and I very much agree that the point is about earlier intervention, but where someone is going through the divorce process, making that process more difficult and confrontation is counterproductive.

Mr Ivan Lewis (Bury South) (Ind)

Does the Secretary of State understand the circumstances where a resident parent turns children against the non-resident parent where no abuse whatsoever is involved? That causes estrangement for the child, often for many, many years. Is it not time that we found a legal framework—early intervention is important in this respect—to tackle this problem? I have only recently become involved in this campaign on parental alienation, and I was shocked that hundreds if not thousands of parents are estranged from their children because the resident parent seeks to manipulate the child against a non-resident parent for no reason whatsoever.

Mr Gauke

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention on a matter that I suspect all of us have had experience of as constituency Members of Parliament as well as citizens. These circumstances are hugely difficult. To some extent, the existing divorce law can somewhat encourage that behaviour, because of the need to attribute blame, but he is right to suggest that this is a wider issue, one that is hard to address in the context of divorce. He is right to highlight the difficulties that can exist and how parents can be alienated from their children in what are difficult circumstances.

When I became Justice Secretary last year, I was able to take a deeper look at the issue of divorce. What became clear to me was that making allegations does ​not serve any public interest. It needlessly rakes up the past to justify the legal ending of a relationship that is no longer a beneficial and functioning one. At worst, these allegations can pit one parent against the other. I remain deeply concerned that what the existing law requires can be especially damaging for children.

The law on divorce and dissolution is out of step with the constructive approach that family law takes in other areas and that practitioners take every day. It is time to change that. Resolution is the lead organisation representing family lawyers who subscribe to a non-confrontational approach. Resolution’s chair, Margaret Heathcote, has said that

“because of our outdated divorce laws”

practitioners have effectively been working

“with one arm tied behind their backs.”

The Bill will change that.

At the beginning of my speech, I spoke about the confrontational position that the law sets up and about its harmful impact on children. That confrontational position undermines not only good co-parenting but any prospect of reconciliation. I understand concerns about people being divorced against their will. The reality is that under the existing law the court can refuse a divorce only if a legal requirement is not met, and never simply because one party wants to stay married. Only about 2% of respondents say that they want to contest the divorce. Hardly anyone continues contesting all the way to a court hearing. Marriages are not saved at all by the ability of a spouse to contest the divorce.

Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con)

When I got married, as a Catholic I did not think the option of divorce was open to us. I genuinely thought that under all circumstances our marriage would be forever; my wife decided otherwise. That was a very emotional time. Does my right hon. Friend expect that when the change comes in some people will find it easier to divorce and that there be a spike in the divorce figures? A period of reflection sometimes gives people the opportunity to save their marriage, and that opportunity might be missed under the proposed changes.

Mr Gauke

I agree with my hon. Friend about a period of reflection. In fact, the Bill will ensure that there is a longer minimum period of reflection for people in a marriage to consider whether reconciliation is the right course. The evidence suggests that by the time things get to that stage, reconciliation happens very rarely, but we are extending that period, so it is not really about making divorce easier but about making it less confrontational.

On my hon. Friend’s point about whether we anticipate a spike in divorces, there is international evidence as to what is likely to happen following such a reform. I shall be open with my hon. Friend: there will be people who are currently waiting for two or five years for a divorce, and that divorce will be brought forward, so the likelihood is that there will be an increase because of that waiting list. However, the international evidence suggests that once that initial spike has been dealt with, in a steady state the divorce rate is unlikely to increase; it is likely to remain much the same. I hope it is clear to my hon. Friend that although we would anticipate that some divorces will be brought forward, the change is unlikely to increase the divorce rate in a steady state.​
Let me turn briefly to the measures in the Bill: it does not create a new process, but instead retains the framework of the existing law and removes those aspects that are considered to cause conflict. The Bill therefore retains the two stages of divorce and dissolution orders. The Government believe that the need to confirm to the court that it may make the conditional order, and to apply to the court for the final order, means that a divorce or dissolution is never automatic and that the decision to divorce is a considered one, with opportunities for a change of heart right up to the last moment.

The reform will retain irretrievable breakdown as the sole legal ground for divorce and dissolution. It will replace the current requirement to evidence irretrievable breakdown through a conduct or separation fact with a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. For the first time, couples will have the option to make this a joint statement, to reflect some couples’ mutual decision to divorce. It will remove the possibility of contesting the decision to end the legal relationship, as a statement of irretrievable breakdown will be conclusive evidence to the court that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.

The reform will introduce a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to the point at which the applicant—or applicants jointly—can confirm to the court that a conditional order may be made. I hope that that gives my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) some reassurance about that moment of reflection. Our proposal will make the court process towards a conditional order less rushed and give couples further time to consider the implications of the divorce. Between 2011 and 2018, around two thirds of cases reached conditional order in less than our proposed 20-week minimum period. That included approximately one in 10 cases within eight weeks, and four in 10 cases between nine and 16 weeks. The Bill also modernises language such as “decree nisi” and “decree absolute”, to bring terms in line with the more modern terms used in civil partnership law.

The reforms I have set out will deliver a system of divorce that is fit for the 21st century. It is time to end the blame game. The system we have now does not support the reality of marriage and civil partnership breakdown. It has been criticised as a system that

“is, and always has been, a sham”.

Those are the words of Sir Paul Coleridge, former family judge and chair of the Marriage Foundation, who, like all of us, believes strongly in marriage but sees that by reforming the law to remove from it unnecessary requirements that can fuel conflict, we will not undermine marriage and will support people to look to the future as they go through very difficult times. For that reason, I commend the Bill to the House.

David Gauke – 2019 Statement on Justice Devolution to Manchester

Below is the text of the statement made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 4 June 2019.

On 31 May the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), signed a refreshed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for justice devolution with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

This agreement replaces the current MoU, published in July 2016. It details the priority areas for the delivery of justice outcomes within GMCA. The commitments agreed between the Department (Ministry of Justice) and GMCA build on the previous agreement, recognise new challenges, and identify new opportunities for developing a broader, more integrated approach which improves outcomes and experiences for victims, witnesses, and offenders, as well as the communities and neighbourhoods in which they live.

The aim of the MoU is to increase local influence and improve partnership working to increase efficiencies and reduce reoffending. Delivery will take place within the context of the whole system approach to public services which is advocated by GMCA. The MoU fits with the Government’s priority to reduce reoffending and our 2017 manifesto commitment to further enhance the role of police and crime commissioners.

The areas covered in this refreshed MoU are youth justice, smarter justice, adult offender management and the victim’s journey. In summary:

Youth justice

With the aim of targeting resources where they can be most effective, the MoU focuses on adopting a preventive, problem-solving approach which puts the people in the right service at the right time. This includes establishing a local consortium to focus on resettlement from custody and prioritising specified cohorts in youth justice policy initiatives, including data sharing. The focus of this section aligns with the youth justice board (YJB) national standards which were published earlier this year.

Smarter justice

We will work towards greater family involvement to support compliance with regular judicial supervision. Along with GMCA we will develop inter-agency planning to increase confidence in community sentences and ensure pre-sentence reports identify vulnerable cohorts. There will also be work carried out to help identify where family-centred principles are best integrated at different points in the system.

Reforming adult offender management

We want to optimise the opportunities created through the new probation model to improve delivery within the context of Greater Manchester’s unified approach to ​public services. This will include a programme of work to support increased viability of community disposals and to co-design approaches to delivery of probation services that support place-based integration. We will also explore co-commissioning options through the Greater Manchester reform investment fund.

The victim’s journey

We will work with GMCA as they seek to improve services for victims to provide a seamless service by using innovative approaches, including digital path- ways, jointly evaluating the effectiveness of nationally ​commissioned services for victims, agreeing a programme to develop stronger links and ways of working at local level for the benefit of witnesses in GM and working to understand the impact of the criminal injuries compensation scheme on victims of terrorism.

This summary covers the main commitments of the MoU. It is available in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moj-gmca-memorandum-of-understanding-for-justice-devolution. Work will begin now to ensure we jointly deliver these commitments.

David Gauke – 2019 Statement on the Court and Tribunal Estate Consultation

Below is the text of the statement made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 13 May 2019.

On 10 May I published the response to the “Fit for the future: transforming the court and tribunal estate” consultation. It sets out how decisions regarding the future of the estate should be made and makes clear that people will continue to be able to access courts and tribunals while providing value for money for the taxpayer and ensuring long-term efficiency.

The consultation published in January 2018, has been developed to complement HMCTS’ £1 billon reform programme, which is bringing new technology and modern ways of working to the justice system, making it more accessible for everyone. It received 249 responses and as a result, the response published today, strengthens and updates the principles underpinning future decisions relating to changes to our estate. It ensures that:

When visits to courts are necessary, travel times and ease of transport will continue to be prioritised—with added support for vulnerable users

Court and tribunal buildings will be fit for purpose and can be maintained at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer

Specialist front-of-house staff will be at courts to support the public and legal professionals, and will be trained in new technologies

The estate is aligned with the reform programme

The provision for hearings in physical court rooms will remain essential for the fair, just and proportionate delivery of justice. Yet we anticipate that fewer interactions with the court and tribunals system will happen in this way. Any future changes to the court estate which result in the relocation of a service from a local area will be consulted on publicly before a decision is made, using the criteria set out in the Fit for the Future principles.

We expect the modernisation being delivered by the reform programme to provide additional routes to justice and as a result lead to a reduction in the use of our court and tribunal buildings. These modem channels will be additional to, rather than substitutions for, existing routes. We make a commitment that we will not act on assumptions by proposing to close courts unless we have sound evidence that the reforms are actually reducing the use of those buildings.

Naturally, with an estate of this size there may be changes in demand for reasons other than uptake of digital services, and in those circumstances, it may be ​sensible to close or merge courts. Furthermore, this consultation has no effect on previously announced closures which will go ahead as planned.

Our response to the consultation addresses several concerns which we have committed to improving. One is that journeys to and from court should be reasonable and, for the overwhelming majority of users, this would be one that allowed them to leave home no earlier than 7.30am, attend their hearing and return home by 7.30pm the same day by public transport. We also set out how we will measure this commitment and what other factors we will consider, for example, the circumstances of users including those that are vulnerable.

The consultation was broadly positive about proposals regarding the design of our court and tribunal buildings and reinforced the need for the security of those who use and work in our courts and tribunals to be paramount and for ensuring suitable facilities for vulnerable users. This is reflected in the new “Court and tribunal design guide” published today.

Our revised principles will strengthen and guide our analysis and assessment when we consider future changes. It will better align the management of our estate to the wider modernisation of our services and will make sure the court and tribunal estate remains fit for the 21st century.

Court and tribunal design guide

Alongside fit for the future, HMCTS has also published a new Court and tribunal design guide. This has been developed after engaging with user groups, to make sure the guide improves the experience for court and tribunal users, while providing value for the taxpayer.

It provides the standards for refurbishment and redevelopment of existing and future court and tribunal buildings. It aims to enable optimum use of facilities and improve user experience and, along with the key elements of safety and security, sets out five principles that must be incorporated into any building design. These principles define that court and tribunal buildings must be appropriate, effective, accessible, flexible and sustainable.

The guide was developed through extensive engagement with court and tribunal users to ensure standards and designs meet their needs. The “fit for the future” consultation sought views on the proposed principles and approach to improving the design of court and tribunal buildings and a total of 181 responses were received.

The guide will be used by HMCTS to help inform current and future building and refurbishment work undertaken across the court and tribunal estate. As lessons are learned and HMCTS reform initiatives develop, the design guide will be updated.

A copy of the consultation response has been placed in the libraries of both Houses.

David Gauke – 2019 Speech on Reforming Prisons

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on 18 February 2019.

Since the early 1990s, we’ve seen the prison population almost double, from about 45,000 in 1993 to just over 83,000 in 2008. Since then, it has been broadly stable and currently stands at a little below 83,000.

This is the highest rate of imprisonment almost anywhere in western Europe.

For every 100,000 people…

… in the Netherlands 61 are behind bars

… in Denmark 63

…in Germany it’s 76

…in Italy it’s 99


…in France it’s 104.

In England and Wales our incarceration rate is 139 people per 100,000.

Why do we have such high rates of imprisonment – both by international standards and our own historic standards?

Part of this is about our society and government rightly recognising and responding to the rise in certain types of crime.

More offenders are being jailed for violent crime for example. And last year, over a third of people sentenced for crimes involving knives or other weapons were given immediate custodial sentences. That’s up from 23% in 2009.

And the length of sentences is increasing – sentences for sexual offences for example have gone up from 43 months in 2007 to just under 61 months in 2018.

It’s also about changing expectations about the kinds of crimes for which we expect perpetrators to be more severely punished.

Look at sexual offences where we’ve seen more victims feel able to come forward, more people brought to justice, and with many more convictions and much longer sentences than a decade ago.

But it’s not just about violent or sexual offences. Prison sentences, in general, have been getting longer.

Even for offences which aren’t violent or sexual, the average sentence length overall has increased. Take fraud: the average custodial sentence for that has gone up from just under a year in 2007 to over 18 months in 2017.

Now, whatever your own views on what should happen, as a matter of fact it is clearly not true that sentences overall are getting shorter or justice is somehow getting softer – as some argue.

When it comes to the length of prison sentences we are now taking a more punitive approach than at any point during Mrs Thatcher’s premiership.

Let me be clear…

…I do not want to reverse the tougher sentencing approach for serious offences. But equally, we should be extremely cautious about continuing to increase sentences as a routine response to concerns over crime. We have to recognise that such an approach would lead us to becoming even more of an international and historical outlier in terms of our prison population.

Instead, we need to take a step back and to ask ourselves 3 questions:

…Is our approach to sentencing actually reducing crime – when reoffending remains stubbornly high, creating more victims and putting the public at risk?

…Are we running our prisons in a way which maximises offenders’ chances of turning their lives around, of going on to gainful employment and re-joining society as a responsible citizen?

…And should we be seeking opportunities in the coming years to find better and alternative ways of punishing as well as rehabilitating offenders?

It is these questions – how we punish people for their crimes – which I’d like to talk about today.

I think now is the time for us as a society, as a country, to start a fresh conversation, a national debate about what justice, including punishment, should look like for our modern times.

Because as I see it, there is a false choice between the narrow and often polarising discussion about ‘soft’ justice versus ‘hard’ justice.

In my view, we should be talking about ‘smart’ justice.

Justice that works.

Now, for most of us in society, the very idea of going to prison for even a short amount of time, and the loss of liberty that entails, is a real deterrent.

But that thinking fails to get into the mindset of many of today’s criminals –who are either reckless, or who don’t fear prison because they have friends and family who have all done time. Perhaps their lives are so chaotic that prison, in the scheme of things, might not seem so bad.

That is true of no group more than those serving the shortest sentences.

In the last five years, just over a quarter of a million custodial sentences have been given to offenders for six months or less; over 300,000 sentences were for 12 months or less.

But nearly two thirds of those offenders go on to commit a further crime within a year of being released.

27% of all reoffending is committed by people who have served short sentences of 12 months or less.

For the offenders completing these short sentences whose lives are destabilised, and for society which incurs a heavy financial and social cost, prison simply isn’t working.

The most common offence for which offenders are sentenced to less 6 months – some 11,500 offenders – is shoplifting.

We know that offenders who commit this kind of crime often have drug or alcohol problems, and many are women. Almost half of women sentenced to a short custodial sentence are there for shop theft.

The impact of short custodial sentences on women generally is particularly significant. Many are victims, as well as offenders, with almost 60% reporting experience of domestic abuse and many have mental health issues.

For women, going into custody often causes huge disruption to the lives of their families, especially dependent children, increasing the risk they will also fall into offending.

And for many offenders, both men and women, who may not have a stable job or home, and who are likely to have alcohol or drug problems, a short stay in prison can result in them losing access to benefits and drug or alcohol support services and treatment. Coming out of prison, they find themselves back at the start of the process and feeling like they have even less to lose.

That’s why there is a very strong case to abolish sentences of six months or less altogether, with some closely defined exceptions, and put in their place, a robust community order regime.

Let’s be honest. The public will always want to prioritise schools or hospitals over the criminal justice system when it comes to public spending. But where we do spend on the criminal justice system, we must spend on what works.

Why would we spend taxpayers’ money doing what we know doesn’t work, and indeed, that makes us less safe?

We shouldn’t.

The reception of a new offender into custody – that first night inside – is one of the most resource heavy moments in an offender’s journey through the system.

Every offender must have their property logged. They must be issued with their prison essentials – toothbrushes; clothing; bedding. They must be risk assessed for self-harm risks and the risks they pose to other offenders. There are full security procedures including a strip search for many.

And then once these offenders are set up inside, there’s no time for the prison service to do any meaningful rehabilitative work with them.

In 2017, almost 50,000 offenders were sentenced to immediate custody for 6 months or less. By abolishing these sentences we’d expect also to reduce the number of receptions carried out.

Just think how much better we could use the prison officers’ time and resources, whether focusing on security, whether looking after those at risk of self harm, or whether spending more time on running regimes which really will make a difference – those built around temporary release for work, education, and tackling drug addiction.

And offenders are less likely to reoffend if they are given a community order, which are much more effective at tackling the root causes behind criminality.

Now, I do not want community orders which are in any sense a ‘soft option’. I want a regime that can impose greater restrictions on people’s movements and lifestyle and stricter requirements in terms of accessing treatment and support.

And critically, these sentences must be enforced.

That’s why on Saturday I announced the rollout of our new GPS tagging programme which will allow offenders’ movements to be more effectively monitored.

Working with our justice partners, I hope that GPS tags will be available across the country by April.

It will be an important new tool in controlling and restricting the movement and certain activities of offenders.

It will also help manage offenders safely in the community and strengthen the protection available for victims by monitoring exclusion zones.

Other new technology and innovations are opening up the possibility of even more options for the future too.

For example, technology can monitor whether an offender has consumed alcohol, and enables us to be able to better restrict and monitor alcohol consumption where it drives offending behaviour.

We are testing the value of alcohol abstinence monitoring requirements for offenders on licence, building on earlier testing of its value as part of a community order.

Underpinned by evidence of what works to reduce reoffending, we are also increasing the treatment requirements of community orders.

Our research shows that nearly 60% of recent offenders who engaged with a community-based alcohol programme did not go on to reoffend in the two years following treatment. Offenders given a community sentence including mental health treatment have also shown to be significantly less likely to reoffend.

That’s why we have worked with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England to develop a Treatment Requirement Programme which aims to increase the number of community sentences with mental health, drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

The programme is currently being tested in courts across five areas in England –Milton Keynes, Northampton, Birmingham, Plymouth and Sefton.

It dictates a new minimum standard of service, with additional training for staff to improve collaboration between the agencies involved – all of which is increasing confidence among sentencers to use them.

I look forward to seeing the outcomes of those trials shortly.

Many offenders in prison have mental health problems, but often struggle to engage with treatment on the same terms as they could in the community. That is why the Health Secretary and I want to explore how innovative digital technologies can be put to use to serve the mental health needs of our prisoners.

We also know stable accommodation is a key factor in reoffending. As part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping agenda, we are investing up to £6.4 million in a pilot scheme to help individuals released from three prisons – Bristol, Leeds and Pentonville – who have been identified as being at risk of homelessness into settled accommodation, while providing them with wrap around support for up to two years.

This is part of a cross-government action necessary to cutting reoffending and tackle the root causes of criminality.

But if we want to successfully make a shift from prison to community sentences it is critical that we have a probation system that commands the confidence of the courts and the public.

I will return to the subject of probation in much greater depth later this year. But, in thinking strategically about the future of our justice system I believe in the end there is a strong case for switching resource away from ineffective prison sentences and into probation. This is more likely to reduce reoffending and, ultimately, reduce pressures on our criminal justice system.

I am determined to strengthen the confidence courts have in probation to ensure we can make this shift away from short custodial sentences towards more punitive and effective sanctions and support in the community.

However, as I mentioned earlier, prison will continue to be right for some.

My second question was about what sort of prison regime we want.

For those who are serving longer sentences, we need to ensure that prisons are humane, safe and secure. Much good work has been done over the past year, led by the excellent Prisons Minister Rory Stewart.

But in prison, to reduce the chances of reoffending on release, there needs to be a positive outlook for the future and a sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel so long as an offender wants to turn their back on crime.

That’s why I have spoken before and we have consulted on a new approach to incentives and privileges that better incentivises prisoners to abide by the rules and engage in education, work and substance misuse interventions, whilst ensuring poor behaviour can still be tackled through the loss of privileges.

It means maintaining a link to the outside world – for example with work and family – so that prisoners don’t get institutionalised and lose hope.

If, at the end of a prison term, our objective is to release into the community a responsible citizen, we must first ensure that we have a responsible prisoner.

An important way we can do this for some prisoners is release on temporary license – or ROTL.

Research last year shows the more ROTL a prisoner gets, the less chance there is of them reoffending.

It provides purposeful activity and experience while in prison so that they have the right attitude for work, can get a job when they’re released, prepare for re-joining their families and society and turn their back on crime for good.

We are currently consulting on loosening some of the barriers to using ROTL for some prisoners. Our plans will encourage using ROTL more often to get prisoners off the wings and into the workplace by removing blanket restrictions on when governors can consider ROTL, particularly those who have progressed to open conditions.

Rather than blanket bans, the focus will rightly be instead on how safe it is for a prisoner to be released on ROTL, enabling them to go out to work sooner, and helping them to prepare for eventual release.

I am pleased to say that three prisons, HMPs Drake Hall, Ford and Kirkham, are currently testing out new arrangements for ROTL, giving their Governors more discretion over temporary release for men and women. This will be a great opportunity to learn from their experience, and explore the best ways to safely and more quickly get prisoners out for work.

Our other reforms will also make reoffending less likely on release. Whether that’s our £7 million investment for new in-cell telephones to maintain family links or looking at how we categorise the risk prisoners pose so they are put in the right type of category prison.

This brings me to my third fundamental question. Is it time to begin to think again about how we punish offenders in future.

Historically, for many offenders our earliest prisons were little more than holding pens ahead of transportation or indeed capital punishment. Of course, those sanctions are no longer available to us. And, for the avoidance of doubt, I am not advocating their return.

But for the past couple of centuries, we have – almost by default – come to accept the view that punishment essentially means prison.

Looking at reforming short sentences by providing a robust community orders regime is a near term initiative that will help us tackle the problem of reoffending.

But thinking about effective punishment for different crimes isn’t limited to those that currently get short sentences.

I believe we are nearing a time when a combination of technology and radical thinking will make it possible for much more intensive and restrictive conditions to be applied in more creative and fundamental ways outside of prison.

I think for some offenders we need to revisit what effective punishment really means.

Home curfew, driving bans, alcohol bans and foreign travel bans are just some of the options that already exist and which might play a bigger role.

I believe the biggest potential comes from being able to better target someone who makes large profits from committing a financial crime like fraud. Or the kingpin drug baron who makes his money one step removed from the violence and misery this illicit trade creates.

Fraud, for example, is a serious offence. It is far from victimless and the consequences for innocent people can be devastating. So, it needs a serious punishment.

And the criminals who commit these offences are calculating. They are premeditated. And they are motivated by greed.

In recent years, the custody rate has increased from 14.5% in 2007 to over 20%, and the average custodial sentence going up from under a year to over 18 months. But once fraudsters have sat out their sentence, they may be able to return to their comfortable lifestyle as soon as they get out.

Indeed, serving a 2 year prison sentence but knowing your illicit cash is still hidden from the authorities, is not an effective punishment.

I can see us being able to take a different approach. For example, this kind of fraudster or kingpin would still need to spend time in prison. And we will continue to pursue relentlessly to confiscate the proceeds of crime.

But we could go further. I want to look at what happens after prison – whether our more effective punishment and deterrent for these criminals might involve jail time and more lasting and punitive community interventions.

After serving part of their sentence behind bars, we could, for example, continue to restrict an offender’s movement, their activities and their lifestyle beyond prison in a much more intensive way.

And that could also mean a real shift in the standard of living a wealthy criminal can expect after prison.

I want to look at how, once a jail term has been served, we can continue to restrict their expenditure and monitor their earnings, using new technology to enable proper enforcement.

They would be in no uncertainty that, once sentenced, they wouldn’t be able to reap any lifestyle benefits from their crimes and would need to make full reparation to the community as part of the sentence.

I’m keen to get industry working with us to develop the necessary technology. Our banks are looking more and more at their social responsibilities, and they could look at what part they can play in investing to help us to deliver this vision.

Community sanctions like this won’t be soft options, but they will be smart ones.

They will enable us to impose an unprecedented level of punitive sanctions outside of a prison, with punishment hitting closer to home and hitting criminals where it always hurts – the pocket.

It will allow us not only, as the old adage goes, to ‘let the punishment fit the crime’, but to let the punishment properly hit the criminal in a more tailored and targeted way outside of prison.

Prison will always play a part in serving as punishment for serious crimes and in rehabilitation, and our reforms will deliver that. But we need to think more imaginatively about different and more modern forms of punishment in the community. Punishments that are punitive, for a purpose.

As with our approach to short sentences, ultimately, it’s about doing what works to reduce reoffending and make us all safer and less likely to be a future victim of crime.

In that sense, I believe the choice – and the debate – isn’t one of soft justice or hard justice. It’s a choice between effective justice or ineffective justice.

I know that there will be some who argue that the only problem with our criminal justice system is that it isn’t tough enough, that the answer to short sentences is longer sentences, that the best way of stopping recently released prisoners from reoffending is not to release them. And that the endless ratchet effect of higher sentences is giving the public what it wants.

But I believe that those in positions of responsibility have a duty to show leadership. To confront difficult issues, be led by the evidence and pursue policies that are most likely to deliver for the public.

That, I hope, is the approach I have set out today – thank you.

David Gauke – 2019 Speech at Women’s Aid Public Policy Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on 23 January 2019.


It’s an honour for me to speak at this event. The wealth of knowledge and experience here today is so impressive and I’d like to pay tribute to Katie, and to everyone at Women’s Aid for making this conference happen, and thank our hosts and sponsors Freshfields and Lloyds for hosting this event.

The space for discussion and the sharing of best practice it provides, is an opportunity to really influence our approach to domestic abuse and strengthen our response to an abhorrent behaviour that often hides in plain sight and creates a type of suffering that skulks in the shadows.

With an estimated 2 million adults – straight, gay, partners, and parents – affected each year; with between a quarter and a third of children in this country having been exposed to it; with too many people suffering in silence, fearful of consequences for them and their abuser; with families left unable to flourish because of the devastating effects of it; with almost 60 per cent of female offenders in the system having experienced it; and with an estimated economic and social cost of £66 billion each year, it is crucial that we recognise our duty to protect and support the victims of domestic abuse.

That duty is what prompted the government to commit to a new approach on this and to introducing a new draft Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament.

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill and consultation response

As you know, in March last year we set out our proposals for that Bill and began a period of consultation so that all interested parties, including survivors, as well as support organisations and frontline professionals could contribute to the process.

That includes many of you here today and let me say how grateful I am to all of you who responded and particular thanks go to Women’s Aid – not only for responding to the consultation but for keeping up the pressure to ensure that domestic abuse remains at the top of the agenda.

The consultation allowed us to get to this point – harnessing a wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise – so that we could draft a better Bill and strategy for dealing with domestic abuse.

I realise we only published our response and the new draft Bill on Monday so you will still be digesting its contents. With that in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk you through them.

Promoting awareness

When we started the consultation process we did so with an open mind but with four key objectives.

Our first was promoting awareness. The idea that domestic abuse is something for families to address behind closed doors is now, thankfully, an outdated one. However, you told us that we need to do more to make domestic abuse better understood by everyone – so that victims know that they need not suffer in silence; and professionals – whether that be the police, teachers, GPs, or social workers – know the signs of abuse and are equipped to challenge it.

That means it is crucial that we raise awareness with the public. We recognise that if we want to change attitudes we must engage with children at the earliest opportunity, which is why we will be introducing Relationship Education in all primary schools and Relationship and Sex Education in all secondary schools and recently consulted on draft guidance.

In primary schools, the draft statutory guidance advises schools to teach the foundation knowledge of what constitutes healthy, respectful relationships. At secondary level, teaching will build on the knowledge gained at primary and introduce concepts about healthy intimate relationships, for example laws and concepts of consent, harassment and abuse.

To raise awareness more widely, we are funding projects and helplines that aim to improve community awareness of domestic abuse; and the Department for Work and Pensions is updating its communication materials to better signpost victims to support.

We will also introduce a statutory definition of domestic abuse, capturing the various types of abusive relationships that can exist, including economic abuse. To aid agencies in the way they identify domestic abuse, this definition will be accompanied by statutory guidance. At the same time, we will invest in domestic abuse training to include the police, social workers and probation services – as well as continuing to work alongside NHS England to raise the profile of domestic abuse with professionals throughout the health service. What we want is for victims to recognise that they are being abused and know that when they speak up they will be heard and they will be helped.

Protecting and supporting victims

Our second objective was how we can better protect and support victims.

Clare’s Law – the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – was an important step forward in making information available to potential victims about abusers’ history. It is now time that Clare’s law becomes law in the very real sense of the word. To do that, we will be able to issue statutory guidance to the police on how the scheme works; and work with them to enable online applications to the scheme – making it easier to access than ever before. When abuse does happen, we must recognise that no two victims are the same.

Last year the government launched our Victims Strategy to improve the experience of a wide range of victims. That includes the many who experience domestic abuse and we allocated £8 million to projects right across the country specifically to support children whose lives have been devastated by it.

We will now increase funding and build capacity for services aimed at disabled, elderly, LGBT+ and male victims; update training and guidance on economic abuse; and introduce a new crisis support system for victims with no recourse to public funds.

We also want to make protective orders simpler and more effective, as well as making them more flexible so that they can better address the specific circumstances of each case. We will therefore legislate for the creation of a new protective order – a Domestic Abuse Protection Order, or DAPO – with a straightforward application process open to the police, the victim or other parties. The Order will also be available in any ongoing family proceeding, certain civil proceedings and in criminal proceedings.

Putting this type of protection in place should mean abuse cannot continue or escalate – keeping victims and their children safe while they consider their options. For the new model to work in practice it will require training for agency professionals and this will accompany the statutory introduction of the DAPO.

I think it’s really important that we are alert to the ongoing impact of abuse in the wider justice system. In my opening I mentioned a statistic: sixty per cent of female offenders in the country have experienced domestic abuse. That is a staggering statistic and it demonstrates why our response to abuse and addressing it at the earliest possible opportunity can be so crucial to breaking the cycle of victimisation and offending.

We know that women who are both offenders and victims of abuse can struggle to access support. That’s why the Government announced £2 million domestic abuse funding last March to support female offenders. This funding has formed part of a two-year, £5 million investment through our Female Offender Strategy to improve community support for female offenders and women at risk of offending, including to address issues arising from domestic abuse.

I am delighted today to be able to announce the second round of allocations from that fund, including – among others – organisations like Together Women in West Yorkshire who are working on a specialist integrated approach to domestic abuse, housing and support service – to help affected women to find the accommodation that can be the difference between them starting a new life or returning to prison; and Women’s Work in the East Midlands who are providing specialist one-to-one domestic abuse support – to help tackle mental ill health, improve self-esteem and provide the kind of training that can help women out of the revolving door of reoffending.

This funding will help agencies responding to domestic abuse to build better links with these organisations and others like them across the country that support female offenders and those at risk of offending.

Making sure potential victims are protected from abusers and doing our best to understand how to help those who are abused are – we believe – two crucial components to stopping abuse and its ongoing effects in their tracks.

Transforming the justice process

Our third objective was how we can transform the justice process for abuse victims. Going through the justice system can be scary and bewildering experience for any victim, let alone one who has experienced domestic abuse. You told us that we should prioritise the safety and wellbeing of victims and their children and offer more support as their cases progress through the system.

This must start at the very beginning of the process and how authorities respond to abuse cases. We know there has been a recent increase in prosecutions for coercive or controlling behaviour – that is encouraging news. But it does not mean that we can take our foot off the gas. We must continue to improve understanding of the offence within statutory agencies so that we can continue to increase prosecutions. As we do that we will also review its effectiveness as an offence to ensure that it continues to disrupt abuse and serves the needs of victims.

The government is also developing national guidance for police officers on serial perpetrators of domestic abuse, improving training so that they can support offenders to change their behaviour; and we are considering the introduction of a best practice toolkit, as well as continuing to test new risk assessment processes and the rollout of the body-worn video.

When cases do go to court, we know that proceedings can be incredibly difficult for victims. We will therefore legislate so that domestic abuse victims are automatically eligible for special measures in criminal proceedings – to mitigate against any further trauma that their involvement in court might cause.

Over the years we have taken several steps to improve the family court process for vulnerable people. We will now legislate to ensure that abusers are prevented from cross-examining victims in person – a practice which can serve as an extension of their abuse.

However, we recognise that we must do more to protect victims in the courts. That’s why we have already allocated £1m in funding to Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors (FLOWS), a project providing front-line domestic abuse workers with the legal resources to safeguard women.

We are now allocating £900k of funding to organisations based in a number of family courts – to provide specially trained staff who will offer dedicated emotional and practical support to domestic abuse victims before, during and after hearings. These organisations will also deliver a programme of awareness raising among key family stakeholders and practitioners.

Taken together, we believe these changes can bring about a real step change in the way domestic abuse is investigated and prosecuted or litigated.

Improving performance on domestic abuse

Our fourth and final objective in this process was how we can improve performance. As a government we are committed to using high-quality data to underpin our policy making and following the evidence on what works. We recognise that domestic abuse is an area where we need more data and insightful analysis. So, we will develop means to better collect, report and track domestic abuse data.

We will also look closely at local initiatives, the way agencies respond to abuse, and what the third sector does – so that we can identify the most successful methods and look at how they can work more broadly to effect and bring about change.

Through this commitment we believe we can raise standards throughout the system when it comes to tackling domestic abuse.


This new draft Bill and new approach to domestic abuse is a once-in-a-generation chance to ensure that perpetrators feel the full force of the law. And it is a real opportunity to transform the lives of those affected. I know that you will have concerns about how some of these new measures will affect the wider system.

As with any piece of primary legislation, the Ministry of Justice, working with the Home Office, has presented to parliament a detailed impact assessment that sets out the costs and benefits. We have also agreed to put forward the Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny to give parliamentarians the opportunity to feed in to this landmark piece of legislation and ensure that we get it right.

But I think the prize in this is clear to see – a fundamental shift in the way we as a society look at domestic abuse, so that we can really start to turn the dial on preventing and tackling it.

From raising awareness both amongst victims and those charged with protecting and supporting them, to understanding that different victims require different types of support, to shifting the justice process to work better for victims, collecting and analysing abuse data to drive better performance – we believe that the draft Bill and consultation response we published on Monday can do that.

I cannot thank you enough for the input you’ve given to us already in creating this new approach. As the legislation enters and makes its way through both Houses of Parliament, we expect the close scrutiny to improve it even further and I look forward to your continued support to inform our thinking as that happens.

Together, we will ensure that perpetrators can no longer hide in plain sight and bring domestic abuse out of the shadows once and for all. In turn, we can end the suffering of millions and ensure that every survivor is free to flourish.

Thank you.

David Gauke – 2018 Speech on the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor, at the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference on 24 November 2018.

Thank you Lucinda [Orr, Chair, Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference]

And I am very pleased to have this opportunity to address you at your annual conference.

Everyone in this room will have their own reasons for choosing a career in law:

To give a voice to the voiceless. To improve lives. To help right wrongs. To pursue justice and fairness. To bring certainty and clarity to a complex world. To rise to the intellectual challenge.

Fittingly, you are called to the Bar – for many, it is a calling.

I recognise not just the contribution that comes from pursuing that calling but the importance of an independent Bar itself.

For my own part, when I was studying law and as a trainee solicitor back in the 1990s, it was clear to me that the law shapes every aspect of our lives and of our country – our families, our relationships, our environment, our trade, the decisions of government.

For example, when I worked on legal contracts, I saw just how important a clear and fair framework of rules is for businesses to make decisions, to invest and to resolve disputes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working in law. What I learned helped me shape my politics and sharpen my desire to protect and influence those rules that govern us so they better help everyone fulfil their potential and support a prosperous economy.

So I stand before you today as a proud former lawyer. When I started my career with Richards Butler more than 20 years ago, I never imagined that I would be the first solicitor to become Lord Chancellor.

Without wanting to dwell on quite how long ago that was, it’s fair to say that the legal world I experienced then as a trainee solicitor is very different to the one I see today as Lord Chancellor. In the 1990s, the internet was in its infancy. Concepts like AI and machine learning were the preserve of science fiction. Today, they are a reality.

The digital and technological revolutions are making waves across the legal sector, fundamentally changing the way we access and use services.

The profession is also more diverse, open and inclusive – the theme of your conference this year.

Given my legal background, I’m pleased to see more solicitors joining the Bench.

Visible and vocal role models like Anne Molyneux at the Old Bailey and Lord Justice Hickinbottom, who I believe is the fourth solicitor to be appointed to the High Court, and who last year was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

As Anne Molyneux herself has said: “I do not think of myself as a solicitor judge or a woman judge. I am a judge who is a woman and used to be a solicitor. These characteristics should not make a difference.” I agree. And I think there are important strides being made on diversity. For the first time, we have three female justices in the Supreme Court. And there is now a greater proportion of female pupils compared to male pupils.

That represents good progress and much promise and potential for the future – but there is much more we need to do. Just 37% of barristers currently practising are women and just under 15% of QCs are women.

Of people practising at the Bar, just under 13% are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background. That falls to just 7% of QCs.

I am committed to working with the Lord Chief Justice and members of the Judicial Diversity Forum to increase the overall diversity of the judiciary.

To do that, we must also make sure there is proper support in place for potential judicial office holders. Programmes like the Judicial Mentoring Scheme ensures there are role models for lawyers looking to apply for their first judicial appointment.

And the Bar Council, as a key member of the Judicial Diversity Forum, led on the development of the Pre-Application Judicial Education programme.

Launching in spring next year, it will help ensure talented people from all backgrounds in the legal profession are given more support to apply to become a judge. This is positive action carefully designed to make a real difference.

I am grateful to the Bar for their work on this and their ongoing commitment alongside the senior judiciary, Judicial College, Judicial Appointments Commission and the other legal professional bodies.

But of course, as well as promoting access to the legal profession, it is ensuring access to justice itself that is so important.

The ability for everyone to be able to access justice and receive representation is vital for a just society. That includes having access to criminal defence.

Criminal defence advocates carrying out publicly-funded work in the Crown Court play an enormously important role in our justice system.

I want to say to you that I do understand and recognise your concerns about the sustainability of criminal advocacy. I also recognise the work which goes into conducting complex cases.

I know there are strong concerns and that feelings and passions have run high this year as we have sought to improve the current legal aid scheme.

I have always believed that, given the importance of this criminal advocacy to our justice system, it is important to get any reform right.

In August, we launched a consultation on proposals to spend an additional £15 million on a range of fee increases across the scheme.

As throughout this process, we have been working with representative bodies of the legal professions, including the Bar Council, the Criminal Bar Association and The Law Society, and have carefully considered the consultation responses.

I can announce today that on top of the £15 million we have already proposed, the government will commit a further £8 million of additional funding to the scheme. That brings the total increase to £23 million.

This extra money will be mostly targeted at cases conducted by junior advocates to support continued investment in the profession.

We will also bring a proposed 1% increase to all fees forward so that the rise comes into effect alongside the planned introduction of the new scheme, rather than from April next year.

I also think it’s important to recognise that whilst these improvements must be given time to bed in, there is scope to further improve the way criminal advocates are paid so that we better reflect work done in an evolving and modernising justice system.

Our best chance of succeeding in that task – in designing schemes which incentivise efficient and effective proceedings, in improving access to justice – is if the government and the legal professions work together.

Because of that belief, I am committed to working closely with the legal profession to ensure that criminal defence advocacy is fit for the modern age, and is sustainable, so that people from all backgrounds can enjoy a decent career doing such important work.

Now, as part of, and alongside access, the experience people have of justice and our courts is also important – for the public and legal professionals alike.

It clearly isn’t right that some of our court buildings have leaking roofs, peeling paint, broken doors and out of order lifts. The impact of this isn’t just on the physical functioning of our courts, it has an impact on the morale of those who work in them and on the experience of those who use them.

That’s why over the last two years, we have spent significantly more than in previous years on our court estate. Last month, we also secured an extra £15 million from the Treasury for maintenance and security of our court buildings.

I am under no illusion that this is one step in a longer journey to make our courts fit for the future. But spending more this year on our courts will help to make some improvements to the estate as we continue with our wider programme to modernise services and move more of them online so they are easier to use and more efficient.

We must ensure the justice system embraces the huge changes that are happening now and that are coming down the track in how people access services. That’s why we are looking to the future at how we can best empower people to access justice in ways that fit with how we live and work today.

For example, the digital divorce service launched in May is reducing the stress faced by couples applying for a divorce.

And reforms in the criminal justice system are making it work better for everyone too – from making pleas online for low-level offences to piloting a new digital system for the police, CPS, courts, judiciary and defence to allow a single shared view of case information online.

I am grateful to the Bar for the contribution you are making to the court reform programme. I know there are strong feelings on this and we won’t agree on everything, but your insight is invaluable. I hope that many of you will be participating in the session led by Susan Acland-Hood later today.

We also need to realise the huge opportunity that exists from harnessing the powers of new technology and innovation for our legal services.

Our growing LawTech industry has the potential to open up the justice system and legal services sector like never before, not to mention the opportunities for those working in it.

Technology is changing our world.

If our justice system and our legal services sector is to remain internationally competitive, it can’t stand still. It needs to continue to change and embrace the technological revolution, as well as respond to the way people expect to be able to access justice and legal services.

Today, lawyers must not only advocate, they must innovate. By doing this, I believe the UK can not only remain a world-leading provider of legal services but a powerhouse for new and innovative legal technologies, such as for SMART contracts.

New technologies – underpinned by English law – and nurtured by a government committed to helping this burgeoning sector.

Our £20 million Next Generation Services Fund is supporting innovation across the legal, accountancy and insurance sectors.

I’m pleased to say we will be announcing the successful bidders for that investment shortly. This is on top of the £700,000 recently awarded to the Solicitors Regulation Authority to support AI innovations within the legal services sector.

Alongside that investment, it’s important we also focus on the education and skills of the lawyers of today – and tomorrow – to ensure they not only survive, but thrive, in this new world of AI, Big Data and Smart Contracts.

I was reading recently about an experiment you may be familiar with where 20 experienced lawyers in the US and an artificial intelligence system went head to head.

The lawyers came armed with their brains, the AI system with machine learning and deep technology.

The challenge was to spot risks in every day contracts. I’m afraid to say that AI won with an accuracy level of 94% compared to 85% across the human lawyers. But arguably more importantly, the AI system took just 26 seconds compared to 92 minutes.

Now, you can either see that as a threat, or as an opportunity. It’s how we use this new technology that will be important. The lawyers of today – and tomorrow – will need the right skills in order to do that.

The LawTech Delivery Panel I announced earlier this year, as well as acting as an international champion for the UK’s LawTech industry, will provide the strategic direction we need, for example on education, which will be covered by one of taskforces established by Panel.

Realising the potential of the LawTech revolution here in the UK will be important to the competitiveness of our legal services on the world stage, particularly as we look to new markets after we leave the EU.

On Brexit, as you will have seen, the UK and the EU have agreed the terms of the UK’s smooth and orderly exit from the EU. In parallel, both parties have also been working to set out a vision for a close and mutually beneficial future relationship.

A draft of the Political Declaration was published on Thursday, and the Prime Minister is meeting the EU today ahead of leaders putting the deal to final agreement at the special November European Council on Sunday.

The negotiations have been tough, and we have pushed the EU hard. We have not got everything we would want, but we have secured important commitments in a number of areas.

The Political Declaration includes a commitment to conclude ambitious arrangements for services and investment, alongside new arrangements on financial services.

Nevertheless, we know that leaving the Single Market will have implications for market access and that some UK and EU service suppliers will not enjoy the same rights as they do today.

On civil judicial cooperation, the UK and the EU have agreed to explore a bilateral arrangement on matrimonial, parental responsibility and other related matters. In addition, the UK intends to apply to accede to the Lugano Convention.

This deal provides certainty for the UK and avoids the very significant disruption associated with a no-deal exit. The precise details of our future relationship with the EU will be the focus of further negotiations once the UK has left on 29 March 2019, and we will continue to press for the best outcome for the UK justice system.

The saying goes that ‘the wheels of justice turn slowly’.

The transformation in the way people use and work in the justice system, as well as the white heat from the LawTech revolution, means those wheels are speeding up.

Yes, there are challenges we need to overcome in the justice system – including challenges for the legal profession. I want to overcome them by working with you. It is important that the reforms we need to make to our justice system carry the general support of those who work in them.

Within the context of that reform, I want to work with you to support and strengthen the legal profession, to make it more inclusive, more diverse and to put it on a sound footing for the future so it can continue to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

David Gauke – 2018 Speech on Diversity in the Legal Profession

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on 7 November 2018.


Thank you, Jo.

It is such a pleasure to be here today, supporting Spark21’s Levelling the Playing Field event. As we lead into the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 – which took the first steps in breaking down the barriers to the involvement of women in civic life, including in practising the law – I think it is important that we consider what ‘celebrating the past to the shape the future for women in law’ really means. It is an opportunity for each of us to re-examine and renew our commitment to a strong, equal and diverse legal profession.

Gender inequality is an issue that affects all people and is not just “a struggle for women by women”, men need to be agents for change too.

The trailblazers on this have of course been representatives of diverse groups themselves. From Eliza Orme – the first woman in England to gain a law degree, to Baroness Hale – the first woman Law Lord and later first woman President of the Supreme Court, the people who have led the way on this have done so by demonstrating the breadth of their talent.

I think perhaps ‘champion’ is too grand a word but if I as the Lord Chancellor and a former solicitor myself can play a part in championing diversity in the legal profession then I will do so. And I don’t say that for its sake. I don’t say it because it’s trendy or because it is ‘the done thing’. I say it because I think it would be foolish not to do so.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that maintaining the status quo could damage our potential as a nation. In that sense, this isn’t just an issue for the 47% of the UK workforce who are women – it’s one that 100% of us are invested in.

In terms of the huge pool of female talent that exists in this country, McKinsey estimate that bridging the gender gap in work could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025 – £150 billion! That is a figure that we simply cannot afford to ignore.

What’s more, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have profits above their industry average. Those are astonishing figures and should serve as a call to arms to all of us that committing to gender equality – becoming champions for change – is the smart thing to do.

A diverse justice system is a healthy one

I’m pleased to say that there is much for us to celebrate in terms of diversity in the legal profession. It is important we remember that for the first time in the UK’s history the Presidents of the three Law Societies are all women. It is encouraging to see our Law Societies not only lead in this area, but practice what they preach!

More than 50% of all practising solicitors are women; while BAME lawyers now account for 21% of lawyers working in law firms. These figures surpass the UK generally where women make up 47% of the workforce; and BAME people make up 11% of the workforce.

And this isn’t just encouraging because of the financial benefits it no doubt brings, it’s also crucial to maintaining healthy outcomes in justice – because a well-functioning justice system should accurately reflect the society it serves.

Despite some encouraging progress in the legal profession, we can aim for more.

The figures show us that the diversity of entrants to the profession is not where the problem is – it’s in the senior roles and leadership that gaps appear. When we look at the senior leadership in law firms, while women make up 59% of non-partner solicitors, they account for just a third of partners.

In the biggest firms that figure falls to just 29%. And while figures at the Bar have been moving in the right direction over the last few years – with a greater proportion of female pupils than males – just 37% of barristers currently practising are women. And just under 15% of Queen’s Counsel are women.

Judicial diversity

That means fewer women in the pipeline of candidates to join the judiciary. Appointing by merit is, of course, the most important criterion for retaining the quality, independence and impartiality of our judges. But we should remove the barriers to talented women and other under-represented groups applying to join the judiciary. That’s why government, alongside the legal professional bodies, judicial representatives and the Judicial Appointments Commission, supports the work of the Judicial Diversity Forum. At its heart, the forum aims to remove the barriers to talented women and other under-represented groups applying to join the judiciary.

I am particularly pleased that we’ve gone from having just one female justice in the Supreme Court to now having three. However there is more to do.

I know the Lord Chief Justice shares this view. That’s why the Judicial Diversity Committee, chaired by Lady Justice Hallett, run a number of schemes to encourage and support under-represented groups. As well as pre-application seminars, the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme provides insight into the work of judges and the Judicial Mentoring Scheme ensures there are role models for lawyers intending to apply for their first judicial appointment. They also run an annual support programme for women and other under-represented groups interested specifically in applying to the Deputy High Court Judge selection exercise.

In April this year I announced Ministry of Justice funding for the Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme. The programme is the first joint initiative of the Judicial Diversity Forum, designed to support and encourage lawyers from under-represented groups to apply for judicial roles.

We are working with the senior judiciary, Judicial College, Judicial Appointments Commission and the legal professional bodies to develop an online learning platform and judge facilitated discussion groups which will launch in the Spring.

And I do think it is absolutely right that we encourage people from across the legal professions – including solicitors and other non-barristers – to apply for judicial roles. The government will therefore be doing everything it can to promote people from all legal backgrounds bringing their talent and skills to strengthen the judiciary. To this end we are working with the Law Society, who have kindly agreed to chair and host a joint roundtable for senior partners and law firms to explore what support is needed to encourage more solicitors to apply for judicial office.

Broad leadership will bring lasting change

Ultimately, turning the dial on diversity in the legal profession requires a joined up and wide-ranging response from us in government and the profession itself.

Some of the figures highlighting the disparities in the profession are stark but I think the legal profession has a real opportunity to blaze a trail on this. And I’m pleased to say that it is already doing some amazing work to address the issue head on.

The Law Society’s recently published ‘Women in Leadership in Law: Toolkit’ is one example of that work and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to contact the Law Society for a copy. It not only brings together research and key statistics on female diversity in the law, it also gives practical advice on the challenges – in unconscious bias, the gender pay gap, flexible working, and best practice – that the profession faces in tackling the diversity question.

I want to pay tribute to Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society, not just for getting the Toolkit published, but in her wider leadership on this issue, where she is making women in leadership in law a key theme of her tenure. That drive for change should inspire others to follow suit.

As one of the oldest and most recognised professions in the world, it would be fitting for the legal sector to lead the way on this more generally in our country – in making progress on diversity not just for its sake but in the interests of excellence.

We must all promote diversity throughout the law. I really want to see things change so that it’s the norm to see women at the very top of their professions, rather than a rarity.


As we head into 2019 and mark the centenary of women being able to practise law in this country, I think it is absolutely right that we renew our commitment to diversity within the legal profession. My message is clear – this isn’t a ‘nice to have’ and we should not be paying lip service to it. A truly diverse legal profession is absolutely crucial to maintaining and improving the performance of our sector.

When we consider that legal services is currently worth £24 billion every year to our economy, it would be remiss of us to ignore how that figure could grow if we encouraged a more diverse workforce. The potential for adding billions to the economy by 2025 is too big a prize to pass up – certainly not for the sake of maintaining a tired and outdated status quo.

By making sure that the profession mirrors the make-up of our society as it exists today, we can build trust in a system that works for all people – no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or any other factor.

Together we can show real leadership on this issue, demonstrating its practical benefits to become one of the leading lights on diversity in our country as a whole. I know that’s what our legal profession is capable of and I am committing myself anew to doing everything I can to support it in that endeavour.

David Gauke – 2018 Speech on Prisons

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Secretary of State for Justice, at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council at the 2018 Partnership Summit on 1 November 2018.


It’s a great pleasure to be here – I’m grateful to the Association and Council for inviting me to speak to you today.

I want to start by saying thank you.

Thank you for everything you and your teams do every day to reduce and prevent crime, to keep people safe – and feeling safe – in their communities.

Your work, your dedication, your sense of public duty, is part of the reason the police continues to be one of the most trusted professions in our country.

As the son of a police officer, I understand some of the difficulties and challenges that go with the job. Growing up, I soon learned about how the police had to put themselves in physical danger, had to drop everything in order to respond to an emergency, had to take responsibility when things got difficult. And the sense that society as a whole did not – could not – fully appreciate the nature of the role. So thank you.

The justice system

We talk a lot – and hear a lot – about ‘the justice system’. That system is in fact a web of connected and interacting agencies, organisations and professions.

What happens in one part of the system can have a direct impact on another – and there is much we can share and learn from each other in different parts of that system.

That’s why partnerships and collaboration, as exemplified by this summit, are so important if we are to rise to the modern-day challenges facing policing and justice.

One of the main challenges is the changing nature of crime. The technology and innovation that is transforming our lives for the better is also creating opportunities for criminals. I will come, in a moment, to some of the particular threats we face in our prisons.

But these new developments can frustrate our collective ability to ensure that justice is done – particularly when those crimes are complex, highly organised, and use methods that simply were not around 10 or even 5 years ago.

So it is important that we continue to work together to tackle the emerging, as well as the enduring, challenges head on; to find smarter and more joined-up ways of working.

Justice devolution: role of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC’s)

The need for that kind of approach is one of the reasons this government is proud to have played a role in establishing the offices of democratically-elected Police and Crime Commissioners across the country.

The unique nature of your role allows you to view crime across the whole justice system in a way that is also rooted in your local area, as I see in Hertfordshire so often.

In meeting many of you, what has struck me is your passion for, understanding of, and dedication to, your local areas and the people who live there.

That’s exactly what these posts are all about – helping to deliver local results that are accountable to local communities.

A really important role you have is around delivering victim and witness services – it’s a role I know you care a lot about and are ambitious for.

For example, we’re seeing some PCCs take steps to improve monitoring of compliance with the Victims Code, as well as some PCCs developing innovative approaches to delivering services for victims.

Take for example the work of Northumbria and Cambridgeshire who have developed single points of contact for victims and are bringing services together to reduce the need for victims to go through the ordeal of re-telling their story.

I know other PCCs are taking a similar direction too.

I’d like to thank the APCC and the NPCC for working closely with the Ministry of Justice on our recent Victims Strategy – and now helping us to deliver on the commitments in the Strategy.

For example, we’re working with you on improving the information sent to victims and I know the NPCC lead for victims and witnesses, Assistant Chief Constable Emma Barnett, has set up a cross-agency group to look at the commitment in the strategy around simplifying the justice experience of victims.

I know all PCC areas have also been working closely with us to make sure the right support is in place in the event of a major crime incident such as a terrorist attack. This will ensure that wherever a crime occurs, and wherever the victims and families live, they will be referred to the support they need.

These are good examples of the work you do to bring together local partners and ensure the justice system as a whole meets the needs of communities. It’s why we committed in our manifesto to strengthen and enhance the office of PCCs.

Both the Ministry of Justice and Home Office are already working very closely with you – and we’re making good progress in some important areas.

The work we’re doing in cities like Manchester and London is showing what can be done, and I will be taking a very close interest in the results.

Emerging data from places like Manchester shows that a whole system approach is associated with a 40% reduction in adult women being handed immediate custodial sentences, compared to a reduction of just 3% across England and Wales.

Any future changes will, of course, need to be considered carefully and some areas are rightly out of bounds – the role of PCCs needs to respect judicial and prosecutorial independence, for example.

But I think it is absolutely right that we look at areas where an enhanced role for PCCs could improve the justice system.

To that end, we’re also working closely with you following our recent consultation on the future of probation and the expanded role that PCCs can play.

I had the pleasure of meeting with a cross-party group of PCCs to discuss some of our proposals, and we have committed to further engagement over the coming months as we develop and refine our ideas.

Tackling crime in prisons is tackling crime on our streets

When we look at overall justice outcomes, I think it’s important to look at the strategic position prisons have in terms of crime.

I believe prisons have emerged as a new front line in the fight against crime.

The fact is, new technology and sophisticated approaches mean that prison walls alone are no longer effective in stopping crime – inside or outside of prison.

Offenders who commit crime in prison have a disruptive, and often, devastating impact on the prospects of those who are trying to turn their lives around and who see prison as a pivotal turning-point in their lives.

But the impact of that crime not only affects prison staff and fellow prisoners, but reaches far beyond the prison gate. While offenders are rightly separated from society, prisons exist within communities.

There is a direct link between crime on the wings and landings and crime in our towns and cities. Ensuring there is less crime in our prisons means less crime in communities.

Crime is being fuelled by organised gangs and networks who see prisons as a highly lucrative and literally captive market to push drugs like Spice, as well as mobile phones and other contraband into prisons. This creates a thriving illicit economy within a prison.

As a result, we are seeing high levels of violence as individuals and groups vie for control of this internal market and enforce drug debts. Not to mention the effect the drugs themselves have in terms of violence. The availability of illicit mobile phones means more prisoners are committing online fraud and money laundering; harassing, extorting and threatening members of the public and grooming and victimising innocent people on social media – all from inside prison.

Of course, if you’re a victim of crime, you don’t necessarily care about the type of criminal network behind it, or that it was committed from inside a prison. You see it as a crime – and you want justice to be done and for it not to happen to someone else.

Whether a crime is committed on a prison landing or in the street, in a cell or in a shop – it is a crime. One of the primary purposes of prison is the protection of the public. We cannot allow our prisons to become incubators of crime. That puts prison officers and prisoners at risk, undermines rehabilitation and ultimately makes our streets less safe.

Joint approaches to disrupting crime in prison

That’s why we have been taking measures to make our prisons safer, crack down on the criminal gangs exploiting our prisons and we have been denying prisoners the space and means to prey on innocent – and often vulnerable – members of the public.

As announced in the Budget on Monday, we will spend an extra £30 million this financial year, on top of the £40 million we announced over the summer, to further improve decency, safety and security in prisons.

The Budget also provided funding for a new prison at Glen Parva in Leicestershire that will help us towards delivering on our commitment to building up to 10,000 new decent prison places.

But as well as investment, creating safer prisons relies on multiple agencies working together in a coordinated way.

Let me give you a specific example.

Earlier this year, a highly dangerous criminal with significant influence in an East Midlands prison came to the attention of the Prison Service’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit and the police.

During his time in prison, he was involved in the trade of drugs, assaulted prison staff and prisoners and was frequently found with improvised weapons.

Collaboration between the prison and police made the difference here: it meant that we were able to seize illegal mobile phones which disrupted his criminal activity and resulted in charges being brought and his sentence extended.

With this sort of joint work between police and the prison, he will find it a much tougher place to continue criminality.

And last year, it was also through a joint operation by prison intelligence officers and police that, together, we broke up a major organised crime gang that used drones to smuggle £1.2 million worth of drugs, weapons and mobile phones into prisons across the UK.

In the last few weeks, more joint operational work has led to a further 15 members of this gang receiving prison sentences of up to 10 years.

I want to build on these successes by following and targeting the money behind the gangs.

The Financial Investigations Unit I announced last month will track and seize the money that criminal kingpins use to deal drugs in prison – with police from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit embedded within it, bringing their expertise and powers.

And today, the government has announced its updated Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, which sets out how we will relentlessly disrupt the activities of high priority offenders, whether they are being investigated by the police, or managed by prisons or probation.

Approaches to dealing with crime in prison

It is right that we focus on this kind of intelligence-led and joint approach. But when crime does occur, we should be clear about how it will be dealt with and that those responsible are brought to justice.

One of the most despicable crimes we see in prisons are attacks on prison officers. Over the last 3 years there has been a 59% increase in assaults on prison staff.

That is shocking and sickening.

Let me be clear: an attack on a prison officer – or a police officer, or an ambulance worker, on NHS staff, fire officers or other emergency workers – is an attack on all of us.

That’s why I’m pleased we’ve changed the law and doubled the maximum sentence for attacking an emergency worker, including prison officers.

This will send a clear message that assaults on those who serve and protect the public will not be tolerated and they will feel the full force of the law.

Alongside changes to the law, we are taking steps to make the fullest use of the powers available to your forces, the CPS and the courts.

When a prison officer is attacked, the suspected perpetrator may well be moved to another prison later and as a result another police force.

This can cause delays and disruption to an investigation so, through close joint working between police and prisons, a new Memorandum of Understanding will make sure that police forces provide mutual assistance to each other when interviewing prisoner suspects.

Over the last few months we have been working with the police and CPS to revise and re-issue the cross-agency protocol on how crimes in prison should be handled. The updated protocol will set the standard for how we tackle crimes committed in prison in the future.

We are also investing in the training prison officers receive so they are able to collect and catalogue the evidence that is so crucial to prosecuting crimes in prison successfully.

Collaborative models

These are important practical measures, but we must also look more fundamentally at the models for policing our prisons.

I know there are a number of operating models already being used by some police forces, including having a single point of contact for the prison or dedicated investigative officers. As a result, there is some really encouraging work going in some parts of the country.

I want to particularly highlight the new unit set up within Greater Manchester Police. The unit is made up of police officers and detectives, supported by two lawyers from the CPS, who are dedicated solely to investigating crimes that take place inside HMP Manchester.

Of course, this approach won’t be right in every area. There needs to be a tailored approach to cutting crime in prisons. But as you look at your own responses, I know you will come up with new and innovative ways of doing it that can then be replicated in other areas across the country.


Tackling this new frontier of crime in prisons doesn’t just keep prison officers and prisoners safe from harm, it keeps all of us safer – in the short term and the long term. It is vital for rehabilitation and to give those offenders who want to turn their back on crime the best chance possible to do so. But we will only be successful if we continue to embrace a spirit of collaboration that has been the hallmark of the successes we have already seen.

I would like to take the opportunity to re-affirm my commitment to working with you in that spirit on tackling crime from within prison, but also as we strive for better outcomes across the criminal justice system.

As PCCs continue to cement their place in the justice system, I am proud of the role this government has played in establishing and supporting them and I am confident that there is an even greater role for you to play in the future. I look forward to exploring the possibilities with you.

In closing, let me reiterate my thanks – not just for the work you are doing with us at the Ministry of Justice but the work you do every day to protect the public from crime.

David Gauke – 2018 Statement on Justice and Home Affairs Council

Below is the text of the statement made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2018.

I attended the Justice and Home Affairs Council for Justice day on Thursday 11 October in Luxembourg.

The Council reached a general approach on the insolvency restructuring and second chance directive.

During the discussion on e-evidence legislation, Ministers agreed not to include real-time interception within the scope of the regulation and asked for further work on the extent of the obligation to notify other states when data is sought direct from a service provider. I offered to share UK experience from our bilateral discussions with the US on a data access agreement, which was welcomed by the Commission.

With regard to the draft conclusions on the application of the charter of fundamental rights in 2017, 20 member states, including the UK, supported the Netherlands proposal for the adoption of “presidency conclusions” given the lack of consensus for Council conclusions.

The director of the Fundamental Rights Agency presented his annual review of the fundamental rights situation in the European Union (EU), noting rising levels of hate crime, including anti-Semitism, and ​discrimination faced by immigrants and minority groups. He also referred to Roma communities living without basic amenities such as electricity and water. Member states noted these concerns.

The Commission updated Ministers on implementation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The European Council will discuss the proposal to extend the EPPO to cross-border terrorism offences.

The discussion on enhancing mutual trust focused on the importance of mutual recognition, while noting the importance of an independent judiciary and the rule of law. The UK intervened to recognise the mutual benefits of continued co-operation, and the UK’s commitment to the principle of mutual trust. The presidency will prepare conclusions on mutual trust for the December JHA Council.

The Commission presented its communication on securing free and fair European elections, including protection from personal data misuse and cyber incidents.

The Home Secretary attended Interior day.

The Commission set out ambitious plans for a stronger, more effective European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) including a standing corps of 10,000 officers, which would provide substantial support to member states in protecting the external border. Member states underlined their support for a stronger Frontex, but expressed concerns about the size of the standing corps, its impact on national authorities and the consequences for member state competence on border protection.

The Commission briefly presented the new return directive recast and member states discussed accelerated borders procedures, linking the asylum and returns processes, with asylum claims processed as close to the border as possible and, if refused, the failed asylum seeker returned fast and smoothly. Some member states focused on the need to maximise third-country co-operation on returns and readmission of own nationals. Member states were divided on the mandatory nature of the border procedures. Some member states supported manifestly unfounded claims at the border leading to an entry refusal rather than a returns decision.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the EU’s comprehensive “whole of route” approach to tackling illegal migration. The Home Secretary focused on strengthening the EU’s response to human traffickers and smugglers advertising online, and boosting our work with African partners on economic development, strategic communications and behavioural insights to prevent migrants from starting dangerous journeys to Europe.

Ministers also discussed the balance between solidarity and responsibility. The presidency, supported by some member states, proposed broadening the idea of “solidarity” to avoid compulsory reallocation of refugees to member states who reject this, but who are content to make substantial contributions to other aspects of migration management, including external partnerships with third countries.

The Council discussed the JHA funding programmes within the next multi-annual financial framework. The UK will not participate in these programmes as a member state. The presidency called on member states to establish a strong steering structure to ensure the optimal use of funds. Member states supported provisions to step up co-operation with third countries on migration, but raised questions around flexibility and allocations to member states.​
The presidency updated on progress on the files within the common European asylum system (CEAS) package. The Dublin IV proposal, as it links to the issue of solidarity and burden sharing, will be discussed among leaders at the October European Council.