Howard League international work

The Howard League for Penal Reform works closely with voluntary organisations across the world. We have many years experience of monitoring the application of international treaties ratified by the UK government and have special consultative status with both the UN and the Council of Europe.

We regularly attend international conferences and conduct visits in order to promote best practice in the penal system.

A review of the Jersey youth justice system

In December 2010, Frances Crook wrote to the Chief Minister of Jersey requesting an update on progress in responding to the recommendations of the Howard League’s review into the Jersey youth justice system, which reported at the end of 2008.

The Chief Minister has responded and confirmed that Jersey intends to sign up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12. Jersey has also enshrined the principle that children who commit offences and children first and offenders second in their strategic framework for children and young people. 

Our work with the UN

The Howard League for Penal Reform was one of the first non-governmental organisations to be granted special consultative status with the United Nations in 1947. 

In 2010 we attended the twelth UN congress on crime prevention in Brazil and held two seminars on children in prison and inspection of prisons for government ministers and voluntary groups from around the world.  We published a paper setting out inspection principles, which was published by the UN.

We were represented at the eighteenth session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna in 2009 and submitted a statement regarding the establishment of an international framework for the inspection of human rights in penal establishments.

We are took part in twentieth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Vienna, 11-15 April 2011. We co-hosted a side meeting on the National Preventive Mechanisms - Using the UN OPCAT to improve conditions of detention. The panel speakers included Nigel Newcomen, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, England and Wales and the Director of the Howard League, Frances Crook, among others.


We have consultative status with the Council of Europe and regularly attend Council of Europe conferences.

We have visited other European countries including Estonia, FinlandGermany and Italy to talk about penal issues such as work in prison and to share good practice. 

Our international work on children in the penal system

We have produced a range of resources on children in the penal system.

On 30 June 2105 published our submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child ahead of the periodic review of the government’s compliance with the UNCRC.

We published an independent submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, regarding the implementation of the UNCRC in England and Wales.

We also published Punishing Children which gives a brief overview on the age of criminal responsibility and criminal penalties for children across Europe.

We worked with Defence for Children International and produced a report on the use of violence against children in conflict with the law. 

Other international work

As part of our work we regularly visit other countries in order to compare practice.

Our inquiry into former armed service personnel in prison visited the USA to examine their experience and response to veterans in the criminal justice system. Leave no veteran behind outlines our findings.

The Commission on English Prisons Today visited both the USA and Scandinavia in order to examine international approaches towards the use of prisons. We published Lessons from America as part of this work.