On 23rd April 2020 the House of Lords held a debate in its virtual proceedings, on a question from Lord German, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the prison population and offender rehabilitation programmes.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, took part in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I echo what has been said already. I draw attention to my interests in the register, particularly the fact that I am president of the Nelson Trust. I will make just a few points.
The Secretary of State has argued that the public would not accept the early release of certain categories of prisoners. The Government need to be clearer with the public about the risks in a pandemic to prisoners, key workers and their families. The potential risk of low-level, non-violent offenders being released on licence is far outweighed by the risk of inaction and delay. Will the Government commit to put into the public domain as soon as possible substantial and transparent information about how the release programme is working and publish daily statistics about coronavirus in prison, including the impact on staff and those in custody?
Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons”
On 5th March 2020 Baroness Gale asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting cases of rape.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, a recent study highlighted that only 25% of university students who had experienced rape went on to report it to their university or to the police. It is therefore of concern that, since 2016, 300 non-disclosure agreements have been issued by universities in response to student complaints, including assault and harassment reports. The Office for Students and Universities UK are working to improve the handling of harassment and misconduct by universities, but can the Minister advise the House when the Government plan to legislate against the misuse of NDAs by higher education institutions to ensure that students are not discouraged from reporting these assaults? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester raises concern about response of universities to student complaints of assault and harassment”
On 27th February 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bates, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the Checkpoint programme, run by Durham Constabulary, to reduce reoffending rates and custodial sentences.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, not least for his important mention of mercy, which is so important to me in my Christian faith. I too would like to commend the work of the Checkpoint programme, especially on behalf of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, who also wanted to pay tribute to Ron Hogg—so it is good to have heard that. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what is being done to support diversion and alternatives to custody for women”
On 24th February 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill at its Second Reading (and remaining stages). The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I am grateful to those contributing to this subject today who have far greater knowledge than I do, and I will aim to keep my comments brief.
Certainly, if a society that relies on government to deliver justice has lost confidence in the current system, it is right that we try to address those fears, and we must look at the bigger picture. I share concerns already expressed about the manner in which this legislation has been brought before the House, and particularly the very short time that we have to consider it.
If the justice system is to serve the common good and the flourishing of people and place, there needs to be an emphasis on a radical mutual responsibility, in which we are all truly responsible for one another. Offenders must be expected to take responsibility for their actions. This should be about not only taking the consequences and punishments imposed by a criminal justice system but having the opportunity to take responsibility for past actions, and the possibility of taking responsibility to restore their relationship with society.
Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester responds to Government plans to end early release for terrorist offenders”
On 10th February 2020 Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford, repeated a Government statement made in the House of Commons on planned deportation flights to Jamaica. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, following on from the previous question*, will the Minister consider whether or not it is appropriate for this country to seek to deal with the offences and aftermath of those brought up here as children, rather than expel them to countries of which they know little, save in the most exceptional circumstances?
Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark questions Government policy of deporting foreign national offenders with longstanding roots in UK”
On 9th January 2020 the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, spoke during the fourth day of debate in the House on the Queen’s Speech, about serious youth violence:
Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I wish to raise the issue of local services that are likely to have a positive impact on serious youth violence, in particular knife crime. I appreciate that the criminal justice system was key to yesterday’s debate on the gracious Speech, and indeed the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester touched briefly on knife crime in that context. However, I wish to concentrate not on policing per se, nor on the actions of the courts, prison or probation services, but on those of other local agencies. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark responds to Queen’s Speech – serious youth violence”
On 8th January 2020 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topic of criminal justice:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate on the gracious Speech and look forward to hearing two maiden speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Davies of Gower. I am sure we will listen with interest to their contributions and that their different experiences will come to be of value in your Lordships’ House.
My contribution focuses on criminal justice matters, not only because of my role as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons but because these issues affect every community, including those in my diocese.
Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester speaks on criminal justice, youth violence, child exploitation and probation reform in Queen’s Speech debate”
On 6th February 2019 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Offensive Weapons Bill in its third day of Committee. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Chrisine Hardman spoke against Government amendments to create new Knife Crime Prevention Orders. The amendments were withdrawn following the debate, but the Minister indicated they were likely to be returned to again at a later stage:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: Before becoming Bishop of Newcastle, I was an archdeacon in south-east London. In my archdeaconry, sadly, was Eltham, where Stephen Lawrence died. I do not, therefore, underestimate the sheer heartbreak and devastation of knife crime, particularly when young people are involved. This crime is growing and growing. I have sat with families whose children have been victims of knife crime. I have officiated at a funeral where that has been the case. The circles of devastation and heartbreak just go on and on. I do not underestimate the seriousness of this problem; nevertheless, I object to this amendment and hope that it will be withdrawn, so that there is more time to reflect on it. Continue reading “Offensive Weapons Bill – Bishop of Newcastle asks Government to think again on Knife Crime Prevention Orders”