Press coverage

Find coverage in the press of Reform's latest work below. 

We are always happy to comment on policy issues relevant to our work. If you would like a quote, an interview, or a background briefing, please email or ring 020 7799 6699 for the quickest response.  

Filter By

COVID-19 prisoner release plan is welcome but could go further

Commenting on Government plans to temporarily release low-risk prisoners to fight the spread of COVID-19, Aidan Shilson-Thomas, Reform Criminal Justice lead, said:

“The Government is absolutely right to take these steps to reduce the prison population and help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Given the rate of spread, these measures should be actioned as quickly as possible, while maintaining public safety.

“But the Government must also reduce the flow of people entering prison in the first place. We therefore urge the Lord Chancellor to go further.

Reform has shown that over 80 per cent of short sentences are not for non-violent offences, and community punishments are on average more effective. The Government should ban the use of these sentences immediately to further aid efforts to house a single prisoner per cell.”

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 26 March 2020

Aidan Shilson-Thomas, Reform Researcher, appeared on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to discuss our Reform Perspectives on 'Reducing the prison population: Extending Home Detention Curfew and scrapping short sentences'.

Listen from 17.40 here.

Sky News, 20 March 2020

Aidan Shilson-Thomas, Reform Researcher, appeared on Sky News to discuss our Reform Perspectives on 'Reducing the prison population: Extending Home Detention Curfew and scrapping short sentences'.

Times Red Box, 23 March 2020

Reform Researcher, Aidan Shilson-Thomas, outlined how and why the Government should release low-risk offenders to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Read the piece here


On Friday 20 March, we launched our Reform Perspectives on 'Reducing the prison population: Extending Home Detention Curfew and scrapping short sentences'.

It was covered in The Independent.

The Chancellor was wrong to shirk radical revenue raising tax reform

Responding to the Budget, Reform think tank Director, Charlotte Pickles, said:

“The Chancellor’s fiscal stimulus in response to the potential economic shock of coronavirus is sensible. But beyond those exceptional measures, this is a high spend, low revenue-raising Budget.

“Aside from the welcome reduction to entrepreneurs’ relief, the Chancellor abandoned the more courageous ideas – such as extending council tax and cutting high rate pension relief – floated pre-Budget. The start of a new Parliament is the time to take unpopular decisions, and the Chancellor may regret not taking this opportunity to shore up the public finances.”

The Independent, 10 March 2020

Aidan Shilson-Thomas, Reform Researcher, was featured in The Independent commenting on the spread of coronavirus in UK prisons.

Read here.

£70m to ‘toughen up’ on probation sounds good, but misses the mark, says think tank 

Commenting on reports suggesting the Chancellor is due to unveil £70m in new funds to ‘toughen up’ criminal probation, Aidan Shilson-Thomas, Reform Criminal Justice Lead, said:

“This is a welcome investment, and extending the use of electronic monitoring, including using alcohol tags, is good news.

“However, despite sounding tough, hiking up the maximum hours of unpaid work, which is already 300 hours, isn’t likely to have a serious deterrent effect.

“Lessening probation officers’ caseloads and investing in the resettlement of prisoners, so they are not released into homelessness and are supported into employment, are much more pressing challenges for the Chancellor to consider if the Government wants to cut reoffending.” 

“Encouraging” day in effort to end rough sleeping, says think tank

Welcoming the 9% decline in rough sleeping last year and the Government’s new £236 million fund to help rough sleepers, Reform Director, Charlotte Pickles, said: 

“The decline in the number of people identified as sleeping rough is encouraging, and this new money shows the Government are serious about delivering on their manifesto promise to “end” the crisis.

“It is vital, however, that Dame Louise Casey’s review looks at the structural drivers of rough sleeping.

“The shortfall between housing benefit and the cost of private renting, short-term funding cycles for Local Authorities, and the scarcity of social housing must be addressed if lasting change is to be delivered.”