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The 2010-2015 coalition and criminal justice: continuities and contradictions

Chris Fox (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Jon Bannister (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Poppy Miszczak (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 11 April 2016




The criminal justice system (CJS) in England and Wales went through extensive reform under the Coalition Government of 2010-2015. In this paper, and through the lens of policing, prisons and probation, the authors set out to identify the direction and qualities of these reforms. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors review key policy documents produced by the Coalition Government as well as relevant critiques. The authors concentrate on policing, prisons and probation on the basis that interrogation of these major aspects of the CJS should enable the principles underpinning the Coalition’s approach to the CJS to be discerned.


The authors identify key themes, and their contradictions, that emerged in the Coalition Government’s approach to the CJS, these being: devolution and centralism; marketization with a growing emphasis on payment by results; politicisation and de-politicisation; and, evidence-based policy.

Research limitations/implications

This is a review of recent government policy and as such some of the implications and outcomes resulting from that policy are not yet clear.

Practical implications

This paper will be of particular use to those working in or studying UK criminal justice policy. Given that the majority partner in the Coalition went on to form the current government policy trends from the recent Coalition are likely to have some relevance to current government policy making in the CJS.


To date there have only been limited attempts to identify key policy trends emerging from the Coalition Government.



Fox, C., Bannister, J. and Miszczak, P. (2016), "The 2010-2015 coalition and criminal justice: continuities and contradictions", Safer Communities, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 110-120.



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