Sadiq Khan and the government have agreed to work out how best to integrate the capital’s diffuse criminal justice organisations and devolve more control over them to London with the aims of reducing reoffending and supporting victims of crime and witness more effectively.
According to City Hall, a total of £3.3bn a year is spent by 14 different bodies working in the field across Greater London as a whole, leading to inconsistent funding and duplication of work.
A London Justice Devolution Board led by senior officers from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the Ministry of Justice and London Councils will seek to implement a programme of change designed to ensure that London government has the powers and funding required to strengthen probation services, target young adult reoffenders and simplify help for crime victims in the justice process.
Key priority areas identified include a much larger role for the Mayor in delivering probation services in future, an exploration of how to make prisons safer and a new approach to managing young and female prisoners in London. The capital’s youth reoffending rate of 47.5% is higher than that for England and Wales as a whole (42.6%) and women in London are described by City Hall as more likely to be sentenced to short custodial sentences.
Mayor Khan said the agreement with the ministry will “ensure that decisions about justice services in London prioritise the interests of Londoners” and described it as “an important step towards the devolution of powers over criminal justice in our city”. Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth and London Councils executive member for crime and public protection, welcomed “progress towards devolving power locally”.
The announcement follows the Mayor’s pledge in November that all Londoners who become victims of crime will have access to a restorative justice service to help them recover from their experience.
Also in November, more control over health and care services was passed from central government to London, and progress towards the capital retaining a larger share of business rates raised in the city was secured in October.
Justice secretary David Gauke described formation of the criminal justice service board as sign of national government’s “deep commitment to devolution”.