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Close to home: the case for localising criminal justice services in England and Wales

Fionnuala Ratcliffe
05 Jul 2023
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Our criminal justice system in its current form is unsustainable. Long court backlogs, few crimes resolved, probation staff shortages. An ever-rising prison population despite prisons costing a disproportionate amount of taxpayer money and not working to reduce reoffending.

One problem is that our criminal justice services – prisons, probation, courts, prosecution, and to some extent policing – are incredibly centralised. There is a lack of local ownership for crime prevention and reducing reoffending. Local agencies go cap in hand to central government for funding, rather than fostering and supporting innovative solutions locally.

We can reduce crime and make our communities safer by giving local leaders the right levers and incentives to tackle crime at a local level – by localising justice services and budgets. This paper sets out how localising criminal justice services will reduce crime, reduce waste in criminal justice system spending, increase trust and confidence in the criminal justice system, and improve the experience of victims.