You are here: Joint sector statement on short sentences

We welcome important work by the Secretary of State for Justice to explore a reduction in the use of short prison sentences.

The Ministry of Justice’s Single Departmental Plan 2019-22 (June 2019) sets out a clear commitment to “develop options for restricting the use of short custodial sentences” as part of the department’s published aim to reduce the use of prison and increase the use of community sentences and alternative sentences.  The ambition to reduce the use of short prison sentences is a core tenet of the Female Offender Strategy and the Probation reforms. It is business as usual in Ministry of Justice plans and strategies. 

The remaining question is now how to make this work in practice. We would therefore be disappointed if plans to consult on this were postponed.  Reducing the use of short sentences is critical to delivering the probation reforms, reducing reoffending and to addressing the crisis in our prisons exacerbated by high churn of people in and out every day.

There is strong sector consensus on the need for reform. The majority of public think people with drug or alcohol addictions belong in treatment programmes instead of prison.  70% of MPs support the introduction of a new presumption against short sentences of less than 6 months for non-violent offences. Devolved administrations, including Manchester, are taking action.

We urge the new Prime Minister to progress the consultation with urgency in order to turn your aim into tangible change on the ground. Restricting the use of short sentences for non-violent offences would reduce crime, reduce victims and save lives.  

Christina Marriott, Chief Executive, Revolving Doors Agency

David Munro, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey

Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire Commissioner: Police-Fire & Rescue, Crime

David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire

Frances Crook, Chief Executive, Howard League for Penal Reform

Peter Dawson, Director, Prison Reform Trust

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Nacro

Rob Owen OBE, Chief Executive, St Giles Trust

Anne Fox, Chief Executive, Clinks 

Kate Paradine, Chief Executive, Women in Prison

Rt Rev James Langstaff, Lead Anglican Bishop for Prisons

Rt Rev Richard Moth, Lead Catholic Bishop for Prisons

Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation

Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive, Leap Confronting Conflict

Andy Keen-Downs, Chief Executive, PACT

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice

Anna Herrmann, Co-Director, Clean Break

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive, Agenda

Nina Champion, Director, Criminal Justice Alliance

Rose Mahon, Head of Excellence and Development, the Nelson Trust

Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive, Probation Institute

Dominique Airey, Chief Executive, Khulisa