Innovative courts

Originally published in The Times




As people who believe that our justice system should tackle the root causes of crime and social harm, we urge the new lord chancellor to pilot and support new specialist “problem-solving” courts. Her predecessor pledged to trial a range of such courts, including specialist courts for female offenders, but the momentum appears to have slowed.


Problem-solving courts have proved to be effective and, most importantly, to cut re-offending. By addressing the underlying multiple and complex causes of crime such as mental health problems, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol misuse, they can offer people a chance to turn their lives around and avoid the inappropriate use of prison.


Our most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, recently said there must be “no pulling back” from plans to introduce a problem-solving approach. We urge the government and senior judiciary to work with local probation, social and rehabilitation services, including voluntary groups, to develop problem-solving courts across our criminal, family and youth systems. Problem-solving courts are not silver bullets but they do help to cut the crime and social harm that affects us all.


Phil Bowen, Director of the Centre for Justice Innovation;

Lord Carlile, QC;

Lord Wasserman;

His Honour Judge Michael Findlay Baker, QC, retired;

His Honour Judge John Samuels QC, retired;

Nick Crichton, retired District Judge;

Malcolm Richardson JP, National Chairman, Magistrates Association;

Dominic Goble JP, Chairman for Northamptonshire County Youth Panel;

Dominique Airey, Chief Executive, Khulisa;

Professor Karen Broadhurst, Co-Director Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, Lancaster University;

Helen Cadbury, Chair of the Barrow Cadbury Trust;

Jon Collins, Chief Executive Officer, Restorative Justice Council;

Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust;

Dr Alison Frater, Chair of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, Visiting Professor Royal Holloway, University of London;

Anne Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Clinks;

Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice, retired magistrate;

Stewart Grimshaw, Chairman, The Monument Trust;

Professor Judith Harwin, Co-director for Child and Family Justice Research, Lancaster University;

Sir Philip Hulme;

Nicole Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer, Standing Together;

Sophie Kershaw, Co-Director of FDAC National Unit, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust;

Shauneen Lambe, Executive Director, Just for Kids Law;

Gerard Lemos, Lemos and Crane;

Christina Marriott, Chief Executive Officer, Revolving Doors Agency;

David McGuire. Chief Executive Officer, Diagrama Foundation;

Joyce Moseley, Chair of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance;

Heather Munro, former Chief Probation officer, London Probation Trust;

Sir Charles Pollard, Restorative Solutions;

Mary Ryan, Solicitor and independent researcher, RyanTunnardBrown;

Dr Mike Shaw, Co-Director of FDAC National Unit, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust;

Chris Stanley, Retired magistrate, Trustee of the National Association for Youth Justice;

Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive Officer, Criminal Justice Alliance;

Jo Tunnard, researcher in problem-solving courts, RyanTunnardBrown;

Richard White, Visiting Professor of Child Law, Cardiff University; Mark Woodruff, The Monument Trust