Michael Gove used his speech at the Conservative Party conference to set out his vision for reform of the prison system.
He said that while Britain could be rightly proud of its justice system, its failings should be acknowledged. “Our criminal justice system is still blighted by inefficiencies, delays and injustices,” he argued, but said the prison system was its greatest failure.
“We need a new and unremitting emphasis in prisons on reform, rehabilitation and redemption,” Gove argued. Saying that criminals were far more likely to grow up in poverty or be in care as a child, he added that “the best criminal justice policies are child welfare policies.”
There was no mention in the ten-minute speech of either legal aid, which was systematically cut by the coalition government, or of the Human Rights Act, the abolition of which is central to the government’s justice policy.
Gove did make reference to wider changes, however, saying: “No one wants reform of the justice system more than the lawyers who work within it.”