Our Ideas Updates

Updated Jul 2014

Crime & Justice

The public lack confidence in the criminal justice system because justice is delivered slowly, the system is remote from the communities where crime occurs, and victims are often treated as an afterthought. The system is insufficiently focused on preventing problems and improving lives.

There is good evidence that informal restorative approaches have a high success rate. We believe that in cases of low-level crime or public nuisance, a restorative justice approach is more appropriate.

We support

the expansion of neighbourhood justice panels as a community-based restoration-first approach to low-level offences, disputes and nuisance

These panels enable trained citizens to practise restorative justice, resolving incidents between local people, for example by brokering the terms of apology or restitution.

Endorsed by Labour, Oct 2012

By involving citizens in the justice process, restorative justice increases transparency and trust in the justice system. By preventing unnecessary cases from going to court, it can also save money.

READ MORE: Many to many: How the relational state will transform public services

Sending criminals to prison is expensive and prison services struggle to rehabilitate offenders so that they can successfully rejoin the world outside.

In some cases, prison is the appropriate sentence and punishment. In many other cases, however, crime is closely related to other life factors, such as addiction, poor mental health or domestic or personal financial crisis.

We believe in

justice reinvestment, where savings from reducing the prison population are reinvested in community services designed to tackle the deeper causes of criminal behaviour

READ MORE: Redesigning justice: Reducing crime through justice reinvestment

Our youth justice system has an excellent record of preventing young people from getting involved in the criminal justice system, which has led to dramatic falls in the numbers of first-time entrants into the system and under-18s in custody.

Integrated, multidisciplinary approaches are more effective at reducing reoffending than 'payment by results' services provided by large private companies.

As a first step, we propose

youth offending teams should be expanded to manage young adults aged 18–21

More intensive support for young adults who would otherwise have received short custodial sentences will reduce reoffending and save money spent on costly prison places.

Supported by shadow justice secretary, July 2014

READ MORE: Everyday justice: Mobilising the power of victims, communities and public services to reduce crime

The system focuses too little on the victims of crime. Very many victims do not have the confidence to report crime, particularly in cases of sexual and domestic violence. In fact, the police are one of the few public services where those who have contact with the service directly as victims are less satisfied with the service than the general public as a whole. Many victims hear nothing more about a case after reporting it.

We argue that

all police forces should adopt a 'track my crime' system

This system would allow victims of crime in England and Wales to track the progress of their case online.

READ MORE: Open justice: Empowering victims through data and technology

Endorsed by Labour, Feb 2014

The police service is the frontline in fighting crime and the first step in the justice system. It is vital that police forces are modern and fit-for-purpose.

The current structure of 42 police forces does not make sense. Some forces are too large to provide locally responsive policing, while others are too small to deal effectively with major incidents and serious or organised crime. There is widespread duplication of staff roles, and individual forces maintain separate administration systems and contracts for functions like IT, vehicles and uniforms.

We propose

a fundamental reorganisation of police resources

The principle of these reforms should be to create fewer, larger units to provide effective policing of serious and organised crime and public disorder on a national level, and more, smaller units to provide accountability and responsiveness on the local level.

READ MORE: Arrested Development: Unlocking change in the police service

Police and crime commissioners were an attempt to make the police more accountable to the public. However, we believe commissioners are too detached from the local level, where transparency and responsiveness are so important. Democratic accountability is essential, but this is the wrong model.

We support

giving local government the power to set police priorities for their towns, cities and counties, and to appoint local commanders

This will improve accountability to local people and improve coordination between police work and the work of other local public services.

READ MORE: A New Beat: Options for more accountable policing

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