Tory Manifesto: Boris’s Clampdown on ‘Soft Justice’

The Conservative party manifesto delivered on its well-trailed promises of 20,000 new police officers, 10,000 more prison places and a ratcheting up of sentencing powers. A raft of criminal justice policies were unveiled which would represent a clampdown on the perceived excesses of ‘soft justice’ as identified by the prime minister including enhanced top and search powers, a ‘root-and-branch’ review of the parole systems, a victims’ law and a pledge to maintain the ban on prisoners voting from jail.  A Tory government under Boris Johnson would represent a major shift towards bolstering the rights of victims and away from protecting defendants. ‘Delivering justice does not just mean treating defendants fairly, but doing right by victims,’ the manifesto said. ‘So, we will pass and implement a Victims’ Law that guarantees victims’ rights and the level of support they can expect.’

The Johnson government also promises a royal commission on criminal justice – the first since the 1993 Runciman commission established on the day that the Birmingham Six were released from prison as a result of concerns about miscarriages of justice. According to the manifesto, the Conservatives would ‘always back the brave men and women of our police and security services’. There would be increased use of stop and search (‘as long as it is fair and proportionate’), more tasers and body cameras, and a new court order to target ‘known knife carriers’ making it easier for stop and search. ‘Anyone charged with knife possession will appear before magistrates within days not weeks. Those who use a knife as a weapon should go to prison,’ it continued.

Read more: Jon Robins,

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