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Speech by Sir James Munby: Children Across the Justice Systems

The 2017 Parmoor Lecture to the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Generations of the Cripps family have served the State as lawyers and politicians. Milo Cripps, the fourth Baron Parmoor, followed, with notable success, rather different paths. And although, apparently, he never spoke in the House of Lords, he made a notable contribution to public life as a staunch supporter of, and in due course a generous benefactor to, the Howard League. We gather together tonight to honour his memory.

More than 225 years after the death of the noted prison reformer, John Howard, the League, whose raison d’etre, one might have hoped, would long since have vanished, continues its invaluable work as the articulate conscience of a society whose public, official and private consciences seem distressingly atrophied. Never have the words of that great Home Secretary over a century ago seemed more topical:

“The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country.”

Judged by that stern test, what right do we have to call ourselves civilised?

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