Five priorities for the new government in 2024 | Nacro Manifesto

Five priorities for the Government 2024

Nacro looks forward to working with the new Government to ensure everyone has the chance to succeed and the support they need to fulfil their potential.  As well as the priorities already set out in the Labour party manifesto, the incoming Government will inevitably face further urgent issues in their early days in power.

Below we set out 5 priorities for the new Government over their first 100 days to help deliver on their missions and respond to other crises.

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Find out what our priorities are

These are built on the direct experiences of the people we support, Nacro’s frontline staff across our education, housing, and justice and health services and evidence of what works.

1. Community alternatives to prisons to reduce overcrowding

Prisons are at breaking point. Overcrowded, under-resourced and inhumane, the current state of prisons in England and Wales is failing us all.

With overcrowding so severe ensuring that people leave prison with the skills and support to be able to turn their lives around and turning their backs on offending is virtually impossible. The new Government will need to take urgent steps to tackle this crisis. Expanding community alternatives to prison will be essential.

To reduce overcrowding in the short-term the Government should consider steps such as immediately introducing a presumption against short prison sentences; immediately reviewing the threshold for recall; resentencing IPP prisoners; reducing the automatic release point from 50% for people sentenced to 4 years or less; and reviewing the point at which people on longer sentences can apply for parole. These are not a wish-list but a set of practical options which we believe will need to be considered in response to the immediate crisis. You can find out more here

As well as immediate steps, the Government must also develop a longer-term strategy for an effective and sustainable justice system, which puts victims at the heart, and better serves us all.


2. Prisons as places of rehabilitation: Implementing a real working day in prison

Having a job and training whilst in prison is critical to improving people’s chances on release. It helps build experience, work habit, and skills in order to prepare people for employment on the outside. And crucially it provides purpose whilst in prison.

Yet currently only around half of people in prison are in work. And for many of those this is only a few hours a day. The Government has committed in its manifesto to improve people’s access to purposeful activity and support people leaving prison into work.

To do this they should look to implement a working day which reflects a working day on the outside. This will not only prepare people for release and reduce reoffending, it will also reduce mental health problems, instability and violence in prisons.


3. A guarantee that no-one leaves prison homeless

1 in 7 people leave prison homeless leading to a cycle of cell, street, repeat. We welcome the Government’s commitment to a cross-department strategy to end homelessness. This must ensure that tackling homelessness after prison and from HMPPS accommodation is a priority.

Currently more than half of people who sleep rough have had contact with the criminal justice system. Without tackling this, it will be impossible to end homelessness.


4. Extending mental health support to all young people

The Government has made a welcome commitment to provide access to specialist mental health professionals in every school. We see through our services how many young people are struggling with their mental health and how this impacts young people of all ages through childhood and beyond.

As part of the roll out of this support, we ask the Government to ensure this is also available for young people in alternative education settings and further education as well as schools.


5. Expanding learning and employment pathways for young people with targeted support

One in seven young people in England don’t achieve Level 2, the equivalent of five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, by the age of 19. This is even worse for disadvantaged young people with the disadvantage gap remaining high for 16-19 year olds.

We welcome the Government’s commitment to break down the barriers to opportunity and bring forward a comprehensive post-16 strategy. This must include a commitment to a broad range of Level 2 qualifications as these are critical stepping stones into work or further/higher education for young people we work with, yet many have been under threat.

Additionally an expansion of the Pupil Premium which is currently available for disadvantaged children in the early years and during school years to include 16-18 year olds would allow targeted extra support to tackle the barriers to opportunity.

Related work on Government policy

The overcrowding crisis in prisons will be one of the first big challenges for the new Government. Read the immediate steps. we believe will need to be considered.

Prior to the 2024 General Election, we shared our priorities for reform. Read the priorities here.