Crime, courts and confidence: the challenge of change

AuthorCedric Fullwood
PositionChair, Cheshire Probation Board
“Everybody thinks our system is becoming soft and wimpish.
In point of fact it’s one of the most punitive systems in the world.”
(Lord Bingham, Lord Chief Justice, England and Wales, May 2002)
The first part of the title of this paper is taken from Lord
Coulsfield’s Report (published in November, 2004) of the
Independent Inquiry into Alternatives to Prison, an Inquiry for which
Iwas one of six Commissioners. The second part of my title – “the
challenge of change” – allows me to reflect a little on the wider policy
and practice context. Whilst I intend to give you a flavour of our
report and its conclusion, I thought that the IASD (Irish Association
for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency) might be interested in
the process of our work and our sponsors, almost as a case study,
should you wish to replicate any elements of it. It is always difficult
to make connections between different jurisdictions. However one
common theme is attempting to answer the questions: who is
responsible for the sentencing framework, who is responsible for its
interpretation, and what is the natureof the communication between
the two?
Wehave to startwith an organisation by the name of the Esmee
FairbairnFoundation, one of the largest grant-making foundations in
the UK. It makes grants and loans in four programme areas: Arts and
Heritage, Education, Environment, and Social Development. It has,
over the years, funded work in the criminal justice field. In 2001 the
Foundation decided to set up an initiative which it entitled
“Rethinking Crime and Punishment” (RCP) and focussed on prison
and other forms of punishment. It was set up as its final report
explains: “in response to widespread concern about the UK’s
growing reliance on imprisonment.” It explained that despite its
financial, social and human costs, prison enjoyed (if that is the right
2005] Crime, Courts and Confidence:
The Challenge of Change
*Chair, Cheshire Probation Board. Text of an address delivered at the Annual Conference of
the Irish Association for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency (IASD), Kilkenny. 4th - 6th
November 2005.

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