Crime and Justice Commission set up to address most urgent issues facing the police and criminal justice system

The Times has set up a Crime and Justice Commission, which aims to come up with new solutions to the most urgent issues facing the police, prisons, courts and victims of crime.

Apr 22, 2024
By Paul Jacques

The year-long Commission will draw up recommendations to address the challenges in areas such as knife crime, gangs and acquisitive crime; cybercrime, fraud and online harms; policing, including the culture of the police; violence against women and girls; terrorism; court back-logs and problems with legal aid. It is expected to produce a final report in April 2025.

Eighteen experts, including former police chiefs, business leaders, lawyers and academics, have been asked to join the Commission.

These include Lord Burnett of Maldon (former lord chief justice of England and Wales); Sir Max Hill (former Director of Public Prosecutions); Nick Hardwick (former chief inspector of prisons and former head of Parole Board); Baroness Manningham-Buller (former head of MI5); Claire Waxman (independent victims’ commissioner for London); Sir Tom Winsor (former chief inspector of constabulary); Peter Clarke, former head of counter-terrorism for the Metropolitan Police Service and former chief inspector of prisons; and Dame Sara Thornton, former chief constable of Thames Valley Police and former chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Kingsley Napley criminal litigation partner Sandra Paul is the only practicing solicitor on the panel. She is particularly respected for her expertise in criminal defence relating to sexual offences and youth crime matters, and is co-author of Defending Suspects at Police Stations, the go-to textbook for criminal defence lawyers.

The Commission is being chaired by Times columnist Rachel Sylvester and will hold fortnightly evidence sessions with witnesses including police officers, victims, judges, lawyers, prison officers, scientists, business leaders and academics.

Ms Paul commented: “I am honoured and delighted to have been invited to join the Commission, in such eminent company. More importantly, I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the assignment we have been set – coming up with a set of pragmatic and practical solutions to some of the intractable problems the criminal justice system is facing today.

“There are many but if we can help to suggest new ideas or give credence to policy ideas which are in development then this is a prominent platform to promote and advocate for change.”

Previous Times Commissions have had a real impact, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak taking up the Education Commission’s recommendation for exam reform, and Keir Starmer promising to introduce the digital health account, which was proposed by the Health Commission.

The Crime and Justice Commission will be evidence-based and non-ideological and has been tasked with formulating recommendations that could be taken up by any political party.

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