CJ100 The term "crime" covers many different categories and types of acts or omissions. Most crimes cause or threaten harm to individuals, groups, the community, other species or the environment. Crimes are currently defined by legislation which gives the Courts power to impose sanctions on people convicted of committing them.
CJ101 Crime arises from a combination of individual and social factors. The level and types of crime are related to the sort of society we create. Green policies are directed to improving the quality, as opposed to simply the material wealth, of our society, and ensuring a just distribution of that wealth and quality of life.
CJ102 Current approaches to imposing sanctions are a confused amalgam of conflicting principles; deterrence and punishment mixed with compensation and rehabilitation. This confusion undermines the potential for success of the positive aspects of the present system.
CJ110 Given that crime should be seen as partly caused by social factors, it cannot be adequately addressed solely in terms of criminal justice and policing policy. A Green approach to crime reduction therefore places significant focus on the social causes of crime. As well as social crime prevention, this includes a broader range of social policies which will lessen the social pressures, such as poverty, inequality or addiction to illegal drugs, to commit crime.
CJ111 The lives and liberties of individuals, groups and society as a whole must be protected within a law-based system which strives for justice, including social and economic justice, and fairness. We therefore believe that it is necessary for society to define certain forms of harmful behaviour as crimes, but that the list of crimes should be kept as short as possible.
CJ112 Criminal justice cannot be successfully imposed from above, but needs as far as possible to be a product of a living, democratic community. The basic institutions of Green justice should be community-based and relatively informal in nature. They should provide maximum potential for public participation.
CJ114 We will introduce the principle of "restorative justice", which while denouncing the crime, deals constructively with both the victim and the offender. The primary aim will be to restore and, if necessary, improve the position of the victim and the community; the offender will be required to make amends.
CJ115 Restorative justice recognises the need not only to ensure that the amount and nature of reparation be appropriate to the harm suffered, but also that it is within the capacity of the offender to make it. This means that any shortfall will have to be met by the community.
CJ116 The symbolism of the scales of justice would be interpreted in a new way; balancing the harm done to the victim or community not by further harm inflicted on the offender, but by requiring the offender to make reparation.
CJ200 To reduce the amount of crime committed by some individuals against others, against the community, against other species or against the environment, with the emphasis on persuading and enabling rather than coercion.
CJ206 To ensure that if an offender has to be detained, the purpose of detention is not to punish humiliate or degrade him/her, but to protect society or the offender her/himself, while maintaining his/her dignity and human rights.
CJ300 A two-fold strategy is required; firstly to reduce crime and, secondly, to respond to it. This will ensure that crime prevention can focus on reducing the social pressures that are or are considered to be conducive to crime, and that restorative justice can function no longer complicated by incompatible considerations of crime prevention or general deterrence.
1)Departments of Crime Prevention: in addition to traditional modes of crime prevention, these departments will also promote social crime prevention.
2)Departments of Justice: in addition to responsibility for the judicial system, sentencing policy and practice, these departments will also sponsor services such as assistance to victims.
Departments of Crime Prevention
CJ310 Prevention of social harms, including crime, is ineffective in our present society, because of a limited vision of what could be achieved by integrated policies designed to build a stable and just society.
a)social crime prevention, that is, reducing social pressures that are, or are considered likely to be, conducive to crime;
b)education to promote the development of communication cooperation and problem-solving skills.
CJ312 At each level of Government, these departments will co-ordinate the activities of other Departments concerned with social policies, especially housing, employment, education, recreation, social security, in much the same way as the Department of the Environment is concerned with the effects of other departments on pollution, and the Treasury with their expenditure.
Reducing the Threat of Crime
i)ensuring universal access to high quality youth facilities and open spaces.
ii)improving street lighting and ensuring people-friendly street design.
iii)ensuring prompt repairs of public amenities and spaces.
iv)increasing resources for caretakers, attendants and staff on estates, railway stations, parks and other public areas.
v)tackling drug related crime by pursuing measures outlined in DU410-413.
CJ315 The Police service has failed to build meaningful trust with many communities and still does not adequately represent or reflect Britain's diversity, including its ethnic diversity. The police are only a mechanism to uphold laws which the community in general consider reasonable and fair. Policing must be by the consent of the community. The Green Party therefore supports:
i)Police forces supervised by and accountable to elected local government.
ii)A fully independent police complaints procedure.
iii)Appointment of more community and part-time police.
iv)Recruitment to police forces emphasising selection of candidates with previous experience in other walks of life.
v)An emphasis on crime prevention.
vi)Thorough anti-racism and equalities training for all staff working in the police and related services, and full implementation of all Lawrence inquiry report recommendations. Require all police forces to have equality and diversity liaison officers whose remit is to support and educate colleagues and ensure that incidents and hate crimes which target LGBTI people, people from black and ethnic minorities (including refugees and asylum seekers) and disabled people are thoroughly investigated and where appropriate, prosecuted, and that preventive action is taken.
vii)Strong, democratic community policing committees in every neighbourhood.
viii)More local police stations.
ix)Greater emphasis on ensuring diversity in all levels of policing so that they include people from a range of backgrounds including people from black and ethnic minorities, different sexual orientations, various faiths, trans people, and other social and cultural backgrounds, and are more equal in the employment of men and women.
Departments of Justice
CJ320 The departments of Justice would combine the current functions of the Lord Chancellors Department and the Home Office in relation to the administration of justice. They would be responsible for the judicial system, sentencing policy and practice. They would support and fund victim assistance agencies such as Victim Support Schemes, Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Centres and schemes to support people who suffer racist, transphobic or homophobic attacks or harassment. They would also sponsor and support local alternative dispute resolution initiatives including Mediation Centres.
CJ321 The Department of Justice at the local level of government will organise the setting up of Local Mediation Centres and fund their running. These centres will not only offer mediation between victims and offenders but also mediation between personal or social groups in civil, domestic and neighbourhood disputes.
CJ322 In order to ensure more effective justice and reduced crime, resources will be targeted towards enhancing co-operation between the police, the Prosecution Service, defence services, mediation services and courts and towards providing all parties involved in the justice process with sufficient means to reach fair decisions through transparent due process.
The Justice Process
CJ331 All accused who admit the offence or are convicted would immediately be provided with an opportunity to offer reparation to the victim(s). Local victim/offender mediation services could convey such offers to victims, in liaison with victim support, and negotiate between the two parties, offering the chance of a direct meeting - in the immediate future or later on - if the victim would like to have the opportunity.
CJ332 It is important to note that the process of mediation and reparation does not put all the onus on the offender. It is a mutual process: the community has a responsibility to provide adequate and well-staffed support facilities.
CJ333 Where offences have no identifiable victim, or where the victim does not wish to take part, offenders may still be offered mediation, but in this case with victims whose offenders have not been apprehended or with community representatives.
CJ334 Reparation might take various forms directly to the victim, if the latter wanted it, or in service or payment to the community; or it might include taking part in a programme that would encourage the offender to avoid offending again, such as vocational training, counselling, therapy, problem solving and other ways of overcoming disadvantage; or it might be a combination of these different forms of reparation. Where a crime has a transphobic, homophobic, or racist elements or targets people due to a disability or faith, the offender should be given specific training to encourage them to review their attitudes.
CJ335 For less serious crimes which have little effect except on those personally involved, the Prosecution Service (CPS) would use its discretion not to prosecute if adequate compensation had been agreed or to suspend prosecution conditionally on the offenders carrying out agreed reparation.
CJ336 For serious offences where the offender is regarded as a danger to society, or others are affected (for example because they fear they may become the next victims), a personal settlement is not enough. Serious offences require a public denunciation, and these cases would be brought to Court by the prosecution.
a)review any reparation already made and decide whether more was required in view of the seriousness of the offence;
b)consider any other suitable non-custodial options, e.g. probation or assistance with relocation;
c)subject to the offenders consent, arrange treatment or counselling;
d)if the offenders past behaviour or the offence were so serious as to indicate a grave danger to society, and there was a serious risk of repetition, order restrictions or detention.
CJ338 The Green Party will consider the possibility of supplementing the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme with a publicly funded safety-net compensation scheme in the case of property crimes where the victims cannot afford insurance and are dependent on Basic Income (EC730) or benefits, and where the offender has not the means to make full financial reparation, or where no offender has been convicted.
CJ340 Wholly unacceptable levels of men, women and children are currently imprisoned at great cost to their future rehabilitation, as well as to their families, the taxpayer and society in general. The Green Party is therefore committed to significantly reducing the prison population. To that end, a range of measures will be used, including changes to sentencing policy and practice. Courts will have a duty to reduce use of custodial sentencing in favour of community sentencing. (See also 'Immediate Prison Reforms' section, below.)
CJ341 New principles will be introduced giving Courts the duty to sentence with main objects of firstly, ensuring reparation to the victim or the community and secondly, persuading and enabling the offender to become a law-abiding member of the community.
CJ342 Reparation of whatever nature agreed or ordered would in the first place seek to reflect the actual financial and other losses and the pain, injury and inconvenience suffered by the victim. Then the offender's ability to pay and perform the reparation would also be taken into account.
CJ343 Reparation successfully completed before sentencing by the court in a serious case will be taken into account in determining the sentence. Mediation between victim and offender, however, will be a voluntary process affecting only the victim and offender as individuals.
CJ344 Current non-custodial sentences such as Community Service and Probation would continue to be used, but the use of fines would be replaced by measures which make reparation for the harm/ inconvenience caused. In the short term emphasis would be placed on increasing the reparative element in sentencing and reducing the use of detention.
CJ345 Vulnerable people such as those with mental health problems or learning difficulties will in a Green society, benefit from sufficient community support to reduce the likelihood of their offending. Their greatest needs are not for penal measures but for stable and caring families, decent accommodation and community medical (including psychiatric) provision.
a)whether it is being effective in ensuring reparation for the victim;
b)whether offenders are required to make reparation;
c)whether it is delivered in a non-discriminatory way as between different ethnic, gender and other social groups.
d)the extent to which it contributes to a reduction in crime.
CJ350 In a just society everyone should be protected from crimes motivated by hatred and discrimination based on ethnicity, colour, gender, trans, sexual orientation, religion, social origin, age, disability including learning difficulties or any other prejudice. A comprehensive strategy will be adopted to tackle, significantly reduce and ultimately end hate crime. This will combine appropriate legislation, police and community resourcing and initiatives, and sentencing. Its effectiveness will be monitored and adjusted as necessary, in consultation with relevant non-government and civil society organisations and the equalities commissions.
CJ351 Addressing the imbalances of power - including economic and social power - that can leave individuals vulnerable to domestic abuse is central to many aspects of Green Party policy. The Green Party recognises that domestic abuse takes places in a range of circumstances, in all types of relationships, and that the victims can be women or men, children or vulnerable adults, including disabled adults, older adults, trans people and people in same sex relationships. Nonetheless, it is acknowledged that a large majority of cases involve abuse by men against women, with research indicating that one in four women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime. On average more than two women a week in Britain are killed by current or former domestic partners. Abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological, financial, or involve restricting of personal freedom.
CJ352 Relationship education to inculcate values of respect for others and respect for difference will be provided in schools and other appropriate environments. Such education will also provide knowledge about the unacceptability of abusive behaviour of all types, and about when potential victims are most vulnerable (such as women during pregnancy, in relationships involving drugs and alcohol), how abusers can gradually wear away at resistance, and what escape routes are available.
CJ353 Programmes will be provided that train all frontline staff dealing with the public, including housing officers, street rangers, police, workers in the health services and particularly maternity services, and other relevant individuals to recognise signs of abuse and to be able to provide pathways of escape for victims. They will recognise that for different victims different referral points and aid agencies will be appropriate. Victims will not be pushed towards police and the criminal justice system against their inclination or will. Peer support networks, with appropriate training and support, will be encouraged.
CJ354 Multi-agency working is essential to identify the full extent of domestic abuse and improve prevention or early intervention. Crime Reduction Partnerships must take lead in co-ordinating information from refuges, NHS, Police, Children's Services, Adult Services, social housing, schools, voluntary organisations and any other appropriate local body who may have information about individuals and families at risk.
CJ355 The Green Party recognise that domestic abuse can have wide ranging impacts, affecting whole families and neighbourhoods. Where children are living in households where there is physical abuse among partners, the children can often also be at risk of physical abuse, and witnessing abuse can have long-term psychological damage. We will expand access to counselling is for all those affected by domestic abuse, the victims, the witnesses and the perpetrators. This is the most effective way of reducing re-offending and breaking cycles of offending within family and neighbourhood networks.
CJ356 It will be assumed that victims will be assisted to remain in their own homes with the provision of all necessary safety measures (including alarms, improved locks and grills, extra police patrols, "neighbourhood watch" schemes etc). Where this is not possible or desired by the victim, appropriate immediate refuge and future housing will be available for all victims escaping domestic abuse. All of these provisions will be publicly funded with permanent guaranteed funding, so that there is certainty about their continuity. Victims will be offered appropriate counselling, and measures put in place to attempt to prevent offenders reoffending.
CJ357 For victims escaping domestic abuse, lack of funds can be a major barrier. If the abuser controls finance and the victim can not access public funding (e.g. working individuals who can't claim benefits), then the barriers to escaping are increased. All essential services will be made readily available to all victims to help them through the trauma and difficulties to escape abuse, including help with housing, legal costs, etc. The court system will be provided with appropriate resources and guidance to ensure that the needs of victims of abuse are recognised, both in hearings related to their case and other matters.
CJ358 Asylum policy will recognise that claimants may be especially vulnerable to domestic abuse, and will ensure that asylum claims of victims fleeing abuse are treated appropriately. It will also recognise that claims may be validly made on the ground that victims' own state will not or cannot protect them from an abusive partner.
CJ361 While the protection of the environment would be promoted in accordance with the principles set out herein, a strong legal base will make it both easier and more desirable to establish community-based and regional forums for the settlement of environmental disputes and for preventing environmental harm by means of voluntary agreement. Third party mediation of multi-group disputes, where there are genuine conflicts of interest in the community, are now well-developed techniques and should be adopted in preference to authoritarian planning decision making structures. Coercion should be a last resort.
Wildlife and Animal Crimes
CJ362 Action is needed to tackle crimes committed against other species. These include infliction of suffering or failure to provide 'duty of care' for animals, the breaking of other animal protection legislation and crimes committed against threatened species and wild animals. Every police force will have a dedicated Wildlife and Animal Crimes Unit, which will work in liaison with local/regional Animal Rights Officers. (See AR401)
Motoring and Road Traffic Offences
CJ365 A separate but not wholly exclusive code dealing with these categories of offence will be implemented using many of the principles and guidelines referred to above but taking account of the particular role of the motor vehicle in society.
CJ366 The Green Party calls for the repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1824 because it is open to abuse by police and government. It discriminates against homeless people and wrongly labels them as criminals when their plight is a social problem.
Restriction, Detention and other Punitive Measures
CJ372 Only the Crown Court will have the power to order detention and only when it is satisfied that the public must be protected because there is a substantial risk of a further grave crime, or that the offences have caused such public alarm that the offenders presence in the community would constitute a threat to his/her own safety.
CJ373 The duration of detention will be subject to a maximum, determined by Statute, and within the statutory limits set by the Court. Parole or early release will be subject to Department of Justice executive review with a right of appeal to a judicial forum.
CJ375 When individuals fail to make reparation or to pay taxes, maintenance, or other moneys where the present penalty for non-payment is imprisonment, they will be required to make reparation for their default through service to the community if no other way of recovering the money is effective. In addition, in the case of those who have income in addition to the Basic Income which will be guaranteed under Green fiscal policy, repayments will be deducted from the Basic Income (EC750). A limit would be placed on the repayments to ensure that the individual was left with not less than the Basic Income.
Immediate prison reforms
CJ380 The physical and social standards of prisoners will be improved so that as far as possible the only limitation on the dignity of their lives will be the denial of freedom of movement outside the prison. Prisoners would normally have their own room. They would enjoy extended facilities for communication and association with family and friends including unsupervised visits. Prisoners would as far as possible be detained near their family and home community.
CJ381 Recognising the nature of the female prison population, with high levels of mental illness, experience of being a victim of crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence, and caring responsibilities for children, the only women who should be in custody are those very few that commit serious and violent crimes and who present a threat to the public.
CJ382 For the vast majority of women in the criminal justice system, solutions in the community are more appropriate. Community sentences must be designed to take account of women’s particular vulnerabilities and domestic and childcare commitments. The restrictions placed on sentencers around breaches of community orders must be made more flexible.
CJ383 Existing women’s prisons should be replaced with suitable geographically dispersed, small, multi-functional custodial centres. More supported accommodation should be provided for women on release to break the cycle of repeat offending and custody.
CJ384 Pregnant women in prison are particularly vulnerable and the scheme provided by the charity Birth Companions, which visits pregnant prisoners once a week, stays with them through birth and gives them support afterwards, should be extended to all women who wish to use it, with government funding.
CJ385 Prisoners should have improved access to meaningful activities, particularly real work and education and artistic and creative facilities. Particular efforts should be focused on ensuring all prisoners attain levels of literacy sufficient to allow them to function effectively in modern society.
CJ387 Homelessness after release is a significant factor in reoffending. We will seek innovative schemes - such as offering training in construction skills that prisoners can use to restore dilapidated housing that they can then inhabit - to help deal with the problem.
CJ388 Prisoners rights will be legally enforceable and will be supplemented by grievance procedures and a prisoners' complaints commission, headed by a prison ombudsperson to whom appeal can be made if a grievance cannot be resolved within a particular institution. Regular spot inspections by lay visitors and Department of Justice inspectors will further contribute to ensure standards are maintained and human rights safeguarded. Suicide and self-harm are a huge problem within our prisons and we will ensure prevention efforts are stepped up. ‘Buddy schemes’, where prisoners help each other, guided by organisations such as The Samaritans, will be strongly encouraged.
CJ389 The Prison Medical Service will be incorporated into the improved National Health Service (see Health Policy). Its responsibilities will cover access to complementary health care, health education and the provision of counselling as well as the direct medication care of prisoners.
CJ390 The Health and Safety Acts and Factories Acts, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Unfitness provisions of the Housing Act 1985 will also be applied to prisons, and Crown Immunity will be abolished in relation to prisons.
CJ391 Young People under the age of 18 would no longer be kept in custody. Social Services Departments will have the responsibility to establish and run a range of small secure residential homes to cater for the needs of particular types of young people with special needs. Safeguards similar to those set out in CJ383 will be built in to the system.
CJ392 There will be adequate facilities and a suitable environment to allow a young child to stay or live with their parent or guardian in custody when this is considered to be in the best interests of the child.
Bail and remand pending trial
CJ394 We will strengthen the right to bail for suspects. Bail will be withheld only when the court has strong grounds for believing that a suspect must be separated from the public until the trial for the same reasons as apply to the power to order detention (see CJ372), or if the suspect has failed to honour bail commitments.
CJ395 Special arrangements will be made to ensure that the trial of such suspects will normally be held within six weeks from the time of arrest. Remand in custody will only be used for offences and offenders where detention after sentence is permitted. There will be a strict limit to the length of the remand. The safeguards set out in CJ383 above will also apply to bail hostels and detention cells in police stations and courts.
CJ400 The system of criminal justice proposed will we believe be cheaper and more effective than the existing system. Principal savings will come from the reduction in the use of imprisonment, but savings will also flow from the diversion from the courts of more minor offences.
Gun Control and Gun Crime
CJ500 Gun crime is a particularly serious problem and the Green Party is committed to tackling it by ensuring a high level of gun control as well as addressing the social factors which contribute to people committing crimes with guns.
Also, as well as their actual use, the presence and availability of guns and 'gun culture' contributes to fear of crime, intimidation and the reluctance of witnesses and victims to report crimes.
The Green Party is committed to introducing the following measures:
The death penalty
CJ600 There is no place for capital punishment in a criminal justice system which is compassionate, just and respectful of human rights. No country or state should retain the death penalty in its criminal justice system. The Green Party advocates the abolition of the death penalty in all countries, and will use its influence in support of instruments and campaigns at national and international level which seek its global abolition.
Crime Prevention & Justice chapter updates: