Look across the criminal justice system today – red warning lights are flashing everywhere. From growing waiting times in our courts, the violence and sense of despair in our prisons, to the failure to rehabilitate offenders once through the prison gate – there is a sense that services are on the point of collapse.
In days gone by, most of us would have turned to Whitehall for answers. But Crest’s work across four contrasting areas of the country over the last nine months has told us solutions are more likely to be found in Plymouth, in Taunton, York or Sunderland than in Westminster.
At Crest, we explore how the different parts of the criminal justice system are working, processing people through the system (often repeatedly) from the police, CPS, courts, prison through to probation. Those working in the system are increasingly saying, “let’s focus on what we can do ourselves”. Harnessing this energy and driving it constructively to improve outcomes for victims and offenders in is the starting point for justice devolution.
This is not about cutting loose for the sake of it, but understanding that by taking greater control over the system locally and seeing it as an ecosystem, it can be tailored to improve outcomes for citizens. A more devolved system also allows a fighting chance to better engage and join up with those local public services – housing, mental health, family support – which lie outside the walls of criminal justice but which are vital to reducing offending and recidivism.
Crest’s experience of working with PCCs across the country to explore and deliver more locally accountable justice, has enabled us to develop to five golden rules of justice devolution.