Shabana Mahmood has been named Lord Chancellor and Secretary of state for justice ahead of ’emergency measures’ to reduce prison overcrowding

As Keir Starmer has unveiled the new cabinet it has been confirmed that Shabana Mahmood has been appointed as the new Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, taking the place of Alex Chalk, who was appointed the tittle on June 21 by ex-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

Ms Mahmood is the MP for Birmingham Ladywood and is a barrister who has been an MP since 2010. She was the first female Muslim minister and has spoken about how important her faith has been in her career. She was made shadow justice secretary in September 2023.

The new Chancellor opened up to news outlet ITV last week after having abuse hurled at her in the street and masked men trying to frighten women who were in meetings talking about politics. Prior to revealing the new cabinet, in his first speech as prime minister, Starmer vowed to bring trust back to politics and restore hope to the nation.

The new Justice Secretary’s first task will be tackling prison overcrowding and to cut the significant courts backlog. Longer term, the Labour party say they will endeavour to streamline prosecutions for serious sexual offences, and review of sentencing.

The Daily Mail reported that Mahmood is expected to announce plans to release ‘several thousand’ criminals later this week in a high-risk move to tackle the prison overcrowding crisis.

The emergency measures reportedly allow convicts to be automatically released after serving 40 per cent of their sentence, rather than the current 50 per cent.

She has the views of the Institute for Government on sentencing policies, who say the new Government has only a few days to act to relieve pressure and review sentencing. Prison reform groups echo those opinions, with the Howard League calling for an end to sentence inflation, and short sentences to be scrapped. Trade unions representing prison staff want the prison population lowered and staffing levels increased. The Prison Governors’ Association has threatened legal action if its members are forced to increase operational capacities. The Prison Inspectorate has been warning for months of the impending crisis.

The new Chancellor and Minister for Justice studied law at Lincoln College, Oxford, receiving her BA in 2002. She then went on to complete the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2003 after receiving a scholarship.

Mahmood entered into the UK Parliament 14 years ago, and was one of the three first Muslim women MPs all elected on the same day. At the time, Mahmood had refused a place in the Shadow Cabinet under MP Jeremy Corbyn, but she was appointed her as the national campaign coordinator in 2021 for Labour.

During her career Mahmood has been vocal about the previous Conservative government’s management of the criminal justice system, highlighting the prisons crisis including overcrowding and IPP sentencing, failure to provide new prisons, the courts backlog, and problems in probation.

One Response

  1. Will the new Lord Chancellor ensure Courts do not abuse the powers vested in them as has been the case???

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.