Blair Gibbs

Winsor — the outsider

In nominating the lawyer and former rail regulator Tom Winsor as her choice to be the next chief inspector of constabulary, the home secretary has stoked more discontent among the ranks of the Police Federation. Not only is he the first non-police officer ever to be nominated to the role, but he is also the

Trigger happy policy

There have been signs recently that ministers are slipping back into the policy-by-headline mindset that defined the last Labour government. We’re seeing the sorts of policies that lack evidence, are launched without any detail on timetables or implementation, and are usually geared around an initiative — if possible, a pilot or a local trial that is short-lived

Labour’s late to the policemens’ ball

Labour has today unveiled a panel of experts to consider the future of British policing.  The review, chaired by the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, will report by spring 2013. There are far-reaching changes underway to the institutional structure of the police.  The coalition government is pursuing sweeping reforms of police pay and conditions

Clarke is right to focus on reoffenders

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke – who was away during the disturbances last month – has signalled his return with an uncharacteristically tough piece in today’s Guardian. The reference to the rioters as a “feral underclass” is not language that the penal reform lobby will welcome from their favourite Minister, but it does signal a

Only police reform can keep politics out of policing

We expect and openly tolerate close, even cosy, relations between politicians and the media – each relies on the other for survival in a society that is less deferential and where politicians find it difficult to be heard, let alone trusted. The police need to tell their side of the story. But the police are

How the government can cut prison costs: privatisation

The spending settlement agreed with the Treasury last October requires the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to make budget reductions of £2 billion up to 2014-15. And, until this morning, the settled approach was that only by reducing demand on prisons would the necessary savings be found. After Downing Street’s intervention, the revised plans published this

Policing the local and the national

Today’s announcement on a proposed new National Crime Agency (NCA) is a key element in the government’s ambitious police reform agenda.  Recent political attention has focused on changes to police pay and conditions and budget reductions, but the structural reforms that Theresa May and Nick Herbert are pursuing matter more in the long-term.  And before

The drug infestation in our prisons

Despite the focus on the government’s controversial plans to reduce the prison population, the troubled Prison Service continues to cause headaches for Ministers in another way — by failing to get on top of the security problems plaguing the estate In the 1990s, when Michael Howard was in Ken Clarke’s position, the concern of ministers

Tackling the last great unreformed public service

The Home Office has an ambitious police reform agenda and is overseeing challenging budget reductions, but they are also forging ahead with plans to introduce real workforce modernisation.  The serious and credible reviewer, Tom Winsor, will publish his independent report next Tuesday.   Winsor’s review will cover pay, conditions and other aspects of employment that

Bringing rights back home

Thursday’s debate on the backbench motion on prisoner voting tabled by Jack Straw and David Davis is set to be a real parliamentary event – a rare occasion where the will of the elected legislature might just make a big difference.  The real news will not be how many endorse the ban, but which MPs

The welcome arrival of elected Police & Crime Commissioners

Directly-elected Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are the boldest reform of policing since the 1960s. In May 2012 there will be 41 new political beasts in England and Wales with large, direct mandates. They look set to transform policing and public debate about crime. The new Commissioners will replace weak and invisible police authorities who,

Prisoner voting rights are undemocratic

It was unlikely that the Coalition could have played for any more time before lifting the ban on prisoner voting.  That was the tactic played by the previous Government, but now it seems the will of Strasbourg will prevail.  But the policy is wildly out of step with public opinion, hard to justify and difficult