As you are aware, I am responsible for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation. Further to our correspondence before the recruitment process began, I am pleased to put forward my preferred candidates for the Committee’s consideration: Peter Clarke for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Glenys Stacey for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation.
Peter is a retired senior police officer, who served in the Metropolitan Police Service for more than 30 years. He rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and also served as Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. In 2014 he was appointed Education Commissioner for Birmingham, with a remit to conduct an inquiry into the allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter. Peter is currently a member of the Board of the Charity Commission.
Glenys is currently the Chief Executive of Ofqual, the exams regulator in England. She is a solicitor by profession but also has 17 years’ experience leading public sector organisations, having previously served as CEO of Standards for England, Animal Health, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Courts Committee and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In August this year, she announced her intention to leave Ofqual when her term comes to an end.
Candidates were informed prior to appointment that the positions were subject to scrutiny by the Justice Select Committee. As you are aware the hearing is non-binding but I shall consider the committee’s conclusions before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.
Clarke has been a very busy chap since retiring from the police:-
New board members appointed to Charity Commission 22 May 2013
Mr Clarke is a retired senior police officer. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service where he was Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. Previous roles included Head of the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department and Deputy Director (then Acting Director) of Personnel for the Metropolitan Police. He is a trustee of Crimestoppers, a patron of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London, and a non-executive Director for the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Rob Allen has his concerns and it's probably worth bearing in mind I'm pretty sure he broke the story about Paul McDowell's family connections.This from his recent blog post on the matter:-
Whatever one thinks of Clarke, it is disappointing that the opportunity has not been taken to make the post of Chief Inspector of Prisons more independent of government. Last year Hardwick told the House of Commons Public Administration Committee that being appointed by and reporting to the Ministry of Justice is “by its nature incompatible with full independence” and proposed direct accountability to Parliament. The Committee recommended as much in their report but just before the election, change was rejected, with the MoJ arguing that allowing the inspectorate separate offices and a website plus more freedom to recruit its staff were sufficient to “reflect the unique watchdog status of HMI Prisons”.
At the same time, as if to amplify concerns about independence, the Justice Committee were involved in a spat with Chris Grayling over the selection of Hardwick’s successor. The fact that the two "independent" members of the selection panel were revealed to be tory activists, led the Commissioner of Public Appointments to promise to amend the rules about panel membership. In the event no appointment was made but now that it has been, the Justice Committee will no doubt want to know who made it.
What else might they ask when Clarke comes before them for a pre appointment hearing? Most of their questions will no doubt focus on the skills, experience and values he will bring to a post which many consider as one of the foremost human rights monitors in the country. But there are three specific matters they would do well to raise.
First they will need to establish whether Mr Clarke has any family relationships that might cause a conflict of interest, such as that which ended Paul McDowell’s time as Probation inspector (and about which the Committee regrettably failed to inquire at the material time).
Second they might want to ask how being an ex-police officer could affect his judgement. After all inspection of police custody suites is an important role of the prison inspectorate these days. Former prison service staff are ineligible to be Chief Inspector of Prisons, but ex police officers seemingly not. His investigation skills will not be in question but will his impartiality?
Finally, they may want to ask a bit not only about how his experience in counter terrorism might affect his attitudes to the treatment of Muslim prisoners but about his other police roles too. For example he was deputy then acting head of personnel at the Met in the early 2000’s. Today the Met admitted that that there had been no proper management of the deployments of undercover officers, even after the introduction of supposedly stringent legal controls. Was that debacle any part of Clarke’s responsibilities? Lets hope not otherwise he will be busy contributing to Lord Justice Pitchford's inquiry.
It must only be a matter of time before the awful Criminal Courts Charge introduced by Grayling gets the chop. The Justice Committee have pronounced:-
Justice Committee report concludes that the Government should bring forward legislation to repeal the criminal courts charge.
Report: Criminal courts charge
Report: Criminal courts charge (PDF 243KB)
Inquiry: Courts and tribunals fees and charges
If the Government is unwilling to abolish or radically reduce the levels of the charge, the Committee recommends that as an irreducible minimum, judges and magistrates should be given discretion to decide whether to impose the charge, and on the amount, in accordance with individual circumstances.
The Committee's main concerns are:
- The levels of the charge being grossly disproportionate to the means of many defendants and to the gravity of the offences in relation to which it has been imposed
- The lack of discretion given to judges and magistrates on whether to impose the charge and if so at what level, creating unacceptable consequences within the criminal justice system
- The creation of perverse incentives for both defendants and sentencers
- The detrimental impact on victims of crime and on the CPS from reduced awards of compensation and prosecution costs
- The capacity of the charge to raise the revenue predicted by the Government, and the effect on respect for the legal process of levels of non-payment
Justice Committee Chair Bob Neill MP said:
"The evidence we have received has prompted grave misgivings about the operation of the charge, and whether, as currently framed, it is compatible with the principles of justice. In many cases it is grossly disproportionate, it fetters judicial discretion, and creates perverse incentives - not only for defendants to plead guilty but for sentencers to reduce awards of compensation and prosecution costs. It appears unlikely to raise the revenue which the Government predicts. It creates a range of serious problems and benefits no one. We would urge Michael Gove to act on our main recommendation and abolish it as soon as possible."
Witnesses to the inquiry who gave oral evidence on the subject were critical of it, as were those who referred to it in their written evidence, except for the Ministry of Justice.
The Committee have launched an inquiry into Restorative Justice. The Chair Bob Neill has written a guest blog for Russell Webster and the terms of reference are as follows:-
We welcome submissions by 31st of January addressing this subject. The Committee welcomes views on any aspects of the use or potential use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, but would be particularly interested in submissions addressing the following points:
- Progress made by the Government in implementing the Restorative Justice Action Plan 2014, including any changes that have been made to this plan
- How the entitlements to restorative justice in the Victims’ Code are working, and their implications for any such entitlements in any future Victims’ Law
- The impact and effectiveness of the National Offender Management Service’s restorative justice programme to promote the development of victim-offender conferencing
- The effectiveness of delivery of restorative justice across the range of service providers and funding arrangements, including provision made by Police and Crime Commissioners, the Prison Service, the National Probation Service, and Community Rehabilitation Companies.
Finally, with increasing attention being drawn to rising numbers of deaths in custody, it's probably worth mentioning another of Gove's appointments :-
Although not subject to pre-appointment scrutiny, I would also like to take this opportunity to draw to your attention to the appointment of Kate Lampard, CBE, as the Interim Chair of the Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody.
Kate is a former barrister and former deputy chair of the Financial Ombudsman Service. She was previously appointed by the Secretary of State for Health to provide independent oversight of the NHS’s investigations into Jimmy Savile’s activities, and to produce a ‘lessons learned’ report. She was also commissioned by Serco to lead an independent review into the culture of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. She currently serves as a senior non-executive director in the National Health Service. She will serve for a period of 6 months from 16 November 2015, during which time a public appointment exercise will identify a permanent Chair.
There is also the enquiry recently set up by the Home Office into deaths in police custody and discussed here in a blog post by Russell Webster:-
- to examine the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents in police custody, including the lead up to such incidents, the immediate aftermath, through to the conclusion of official investigations. It should consider the extent to which ethnicity is a factor in such incidents. The review should include a particular focus on family involvement and their support experience at all stages.
- to examine and identify the reasons and obstacles as to why the current investigation system has fallen short of many families’ needs and expectations, with particular reference to the importance of accountability of those involved and sustained learning following such incidents.
- to identify areas for improvement and develop recommendations seeking to ensure appropriate, humane institutional treatment when such incidents, particularly deaths in or following detention in police custody, occur. Recommendations should consider the safety and welfare of all those in the police custody environment, including detainees and police officers and staff. The aim should be to enhance the safety of the police custody setting for all.
The Home Secretary also confirmed that there will be a formal role for INQUEST, a charity that offers advice to families bereaved by death in police custody. Deborah Coles, Director at INQUEST, has been appointed as a special adviser to the chair and the charity will:
- facilitate family listening days so that the Chair can hear evidence first-hand from those who have lost loved ones in police custody to ensure their views are taken into account.
- play a leading role on an advisory board which will offer expert advice to the Chair during the course of the review.