Our event a success at the LibDem Party Conference
07.15 on a Monday morning is a strange time to be talking about prisons versus community sentences but I am delighted to say that our fringe event at the Lib Dem conference was really well attended and we were very pleased with the level of debate.
We had a fantastic panel, including Lord McNally, Minister for Justice, Paul McDowell, Chief Executive of Nacro and John Howson, Deputy Chairman of the Magistrates’ Association and Anushka Asthana from the Observer chaired the event. We discussed a variety of policy and practical issues around short term prison sentences including the role of sentencers, offenders with mental health, drug and alcohol problems, housing provision for ex-offenders and women offenders, among others. Some sombre issues were raised – particularly the elephant in the room – we can’t afford to reduce prison numbers without putting appropriate investment into community provision otherwise we are simply setting up community sentences to fail and prison will yet again become the default position for sentencers….