Second chances for ex-offenders through education

Longford Lectures

Michael Gove: What is Really Criminal about our Justice System?

16th November 2016

The 15th Longford Lecture was given on

Wednesday November 16th, 2016




Selected quotes from the Lecture:

  • "So many of those in prison are damaged individulas, victims themselves; we should be careful about the moral judgements we make about them."  
  • "Always the poor relation of the rest of the bar, criminal work is now in increasing danger through the slow strangulation of the supply of talent it needs to prosper."

  • "We should want prisons to have principals running local colleges, busines people hiring apprenitces, employers recruiting new colleagues, social work leaders involved in the supervision of those in care and volunteers who want to make a difference all involved in setting goals and providing opportunities." 
  • It should also go without saying - but sometimes still needs restating - that jury trial is a critical guarantor of liberty. I opposed plans for restricting trial by jury in certain cases, such as complex fraud trials, because I trust the common sense and good judgement of our fellow citizens and believe that quality advocacy can make even the most complex cases intelligible to a jury."

  • "If we give local areas a specific police, crime and justice budget and allow them to divide it as appropriate between community policing, youth services, social work, youth offending teams, probation, community sentencing, courts and custody then we could see communities make mature decisions about spending more on effective crime prevention measures that would reduce the need for expensive provision of more and more prison places."

  • "Many of those who find themselves in the criminal justice system have, as I have already noted, troubled upbringings, mental health problems and serial addictions. The answer to their offending behaviour is far more likely to come from the voluntary embrace of therapy and treatment than the enforced imposition of incarceration. That is why the idea of problem-solving courts - where the presiding judge takes a personal interest in the fate and future of the offender and is prepared to spare an individual from custody if they accept a course of treatment, submit to certain conditions or commit to particular conduct - is so promising." 

  • "I would recommend using the power of executive clemency for those 500 or so IPP prisoners who have been in jail for far longer than the tariff for their offence and have now – after multiple parole reviews – served even longer than the maximum determinate sentence for that index offence."

  • "We need to ensure that prisons build up the resources of character and resilience which will mean prisoners are less likely to offend in future.  I believe, with Frank Longford, that such a mission is vital because every single human soul is precious and all of us can achieve something worthwhile if the circumstances are right."

  • But the alternative to change is the status quo – a declining criminal bar, a worsening situation in our prisons, a recidivism rate that is indefensible. So – not to change – not to reform our system – when we know we can do better - that really would be criminal.

To read the lecture in full (PDF) or to download it please click here

The 2016 Longford Lecture

Thank you for your interest in the Michael Gove Longford Lecture

The full text of the Lecture is now available (see above) and the video is now available to view on our Vimeo channel. We aim to make the lecture as accessible as possible to the largest numbers of people. The lecture is free. All donations big and small are most welcome and go towards the Longford Trust's work, mainly with scholarships for prisoners and ex-prisoners hoping to progress into Higher Education. 


The Longford Trust makes no charge for tickets. The Lectures are deliberately open to all regardless of means. However the trustees ancourage all those who can afford to do so make a donation in lieu of their tickets by using our facility on JustGiving. A donation of £10 or more per ticket is suggested.

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