The letter below has been sent to leaders of the Brexit Party, Conservative Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and Scottish National Party. 

Now that a general election has been called, we call on all party leaders to temper their language in regard to law and order so that sensitive issues of intense public concern are not exploited but are used to contribute to a reasoned and constructive public debate.

We call on party leaders to base policies and announcements on the evidence. The evidence on desistance is clear: it must include a sense of hope and confidence in a better future; positive and collaborative relationships based on respect; social networks; testing new identities like being a student, an employee or parent; and recognition of what people can contribute to their community.

Academic evidence published by the Ministry of Justice shows what does not work. This includes using language that confirms a criminal identity, trying to ‘scare’ someone out of crime and focusing on the damaging consequences and telling people that you have given up on them.

We all want to reduce crime and prevent victims, and we want policies and practices that promote a safer society. As organisations with expertise in criminal justice and social justice we ask that you provide a positive model for your party and the country.

Yours sincerely,

Frances Crook, CEO, Howard League for Penal Reform
Andrea Allbutt, president, Prison Governors’ Association
Nina Champion, director, Criminal Justice Alliance
Andrea Coomber, director, Justice
Peter Dawson, director, Prison Reform Trust
Anne Fox, CEO, Clinks
Richard Garside, director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
Penelope Gibbs, director, Transform Justice
Sara Llewellin, CEO, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Christina Marriott, CEO, Revolving Doors Agency,
Joyce Moseley, chair, Transition to Adulthood Alliance
Kate Paradine, CEO, Women in Prison
Campbell Robb, CEO, Nacro
Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO, Become
Martha Spurrier, director, Liberty
Carolyne Willow, director, Article 39

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison