Justice Committee - weekly update
28 June 2019
At the end of sitting weeks the Justice Committee publishes a brief summary of its activities in the form of a weekly update.
This week (commencing 24 June 2019)
Prison population 2022: Committee writes to Justice Secretary
This week, the Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, wrote to the Secretary of State, David Gauke MP, criticising the Government's lack of a plan for dealing with the prisons crisis and seeking more detail about its strategy.
In the letter, Chair Bob Neill expresses frustration at the lack of a plan and presses the Justice Secretary for answers to a number of questions relating to the Government's response to the Committee's report on Prison Population 2022.
- the prison estate
- the high turnover of prison staff
- rehabilitative programmes
- resourcing of the Sentencing Council and a number of other areas.
Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:
"From overcrowded, squalid and poorly maintained prisons to inadequate opportunities for rehabilitation, the Government's crisis management approach to jails has been failing for more than five years. Without a strategy, we do not believe that the serious challenges can be addressed. That's why my letter to David Gauke presses this matter once again and I hope this time he is able to reassure us with greater detail and clarity."
Other business this week
Evidence session: Court and tribunals reform
On Tuesday, we held our third public evidence session as part of our inquiry on court and tribunals reform. The session considered how and where justice is delivered, covering topics including:
- the direction of the HMCTS reform programme as a whole
- digital justice and Assisted Digital support
- legal capability; online courts and access to physical courts; and,
- video hearings and the principle of open justice.
We heard from:
- Jodie Blackstock, Legal Director, JUSTICE
- Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice
- Professor Richard Susskind
- Lisa Wintersteiger, Chief Executive, Law for Life
Inquiries still accepting written evidence
The Committee's inquiry into Prison Governance is still accepting written evidence. The Committee would welcome written submissions of up to 3,000 words on all or some of the questions set out in the terms of reference. For more information, see here.
- Letter dated 20 June 2019 from Paul Maynard MP, Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Justice, on Commencement of the flexible operating hours pilots
- Letter dated 17 June 2019 from Edward Argar MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, on Publication of the Farmer Review for Women
- Letter dated 18 June 2019 from Robert Buckland QC MP, Minister of State for Justice, on HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report on HMP Lewes
- Letter to Minister of State for Justice, regarding HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report on HMP Lewes, dated 22 May 2019
- Letter from Bob Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee, to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on the Government Response to the Committee's Sixteenth Report, Prison Population 2022: planning for the future, dated 26 June 2019
The Committee will next meet on Tuesday 2 July at 10am. We will hold our second public evidence session on our inquiry into prison governance. This Inquiry provides the opportunity to examine the governance structures within the prison system and the question of leadership within prisons. This session will cover:
- The commissioning and oversight of health services; and
- The new arrangements for education in prison, as well as consideration of the implementation of the Coates Review.
As part of this session, we will be hearing from three panels:
- Dr Sarah Bromley, National Medical Director, Health in Justice, Care UK
- Dr Ian Cumming, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Digby Griffith, Executive Director Safety and Rehabilitation, HM Prison and Probation Service)
- Francesca Cooney, Head of Policy, Prisoner's Education Trust/ Prisoners Learning Alliance
- Paul Cottrell, Acting General Secretary, University and College Union Chris Emmett, Director of Strategy, Prison Education, Weston College
You can watch the session online (either live or on catch up) from 10am on Tuesday 2 July.
If you wish to watch in person from the public gallery you can. The meeting will be held in Room 15, Palace of Westminster. Please read this guidance on visiting Parliament.