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Is society 'too risk-averse'?

08:27 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

Prisoners are being kept in jail because society is "too risk-averse" to allow them to be released on licence, according to the parole chief. Do you agree?

Sir David Latham told the Guardian that public reaction to cases like that of James Bulger killer Jon Venables would make authorities even more cautious.

The Parole Board chairman added that society had to decide what level of risk it was ready to accept.

What is an acceptable level of risk? Do you agree with Sir David Latham? Does society worry too much about crime? Should we be more tolerant of prisoners released on parole? Do parole proceedings need to change?

This debate has been closed. Thank you for your commments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    If a lot of the public think that a prisoner hasn't received an appropriate punishment for their crimes, then there is more of a reaction to releases

  • Comment number 2.

    Well excuse us for not wanting criminals mixing with the majority of law abiding citizens.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes and not just in terms of releasing prisoners on licence. We're risk-averse in almost every facet of modern day life and it has made for a thoroughly boring litigation society.

    It wouldn't be half as bad if policy was based on science and facts rather than religion and political ideology (same thing really).

  • Comment number 4.

    There should be no risk whatsoever to the public at large from prisioners.One way to minimise the risk is to keep them locked up until their sentance has been completed in full.
    The Do Gooders that surround us would like to see releases the day after sentance.
    Think of the public not the criminal some should never ever be released.

  • Comment number 5.

    Society in general has become risk averse in that we wrap our children in cotton wool and refuse to allow them to learn from their experiences that their actions have consequences.

    However, I do not believe this risk-aversity applies to the cases of prison sentences and parole releases. This is more a case of people being fed up with courts assigning excessively lenient sentences for political reasons rather than moral or societal reasons. If the maximum sentence imposed seems too little then people will certainly be opposed to offenders being released having served their minimum sentence.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sir David Latham needs to take a big reality check. Many horrific crimes are committed by prisoners let out on licence because they lack the massive after-care they should be given. Parole to some prisoners is just an excuse to re-offend. Has he never looked at the figures. I think the public would have more tolerance if they could be convinced that parole is monitored properly.

  • Comment number 7.

    Violent crime should definitely involve a custodial sentence. What kind of fool thinks otherwise?

  • Comment number 8.

    "Too Risk Averse" are we???

    sorry Sir David, but maybe you could set up a rehab facility next to your home and see what risks you might or might not be averse to.

    Petty crime in this country has no deterrent.

    Even after repeat offenses it is usually a slap on the wrist.

    This leads to an ever increasing list of ofences and disregard for the law and the rest of society.

    Serious violent offenders and sex offenders should be locked away for ever.

    I dont agree with the death penalty, as a life locked away from society is a far more fitting punishment.

    Lets face it, its all down to cost... and yet I can find a Travel lodge for under £30 per night and thats with a nice bed, TV and Shower, so how come prisons are so expensive?

    Yet again one persons ridiculous claim is seen as the way forward, I am sure that there will be a lot of posters on here thinking that we are far too soft of offenders. I tire of the people who have tried and failed to rehabilitate people who can never change.

    If my child were one of these monsters, I would still have a parents love for them...I hope, but I would be expecting to be visiting them for ever in prison and not to RISK having them released to harm again.

    Like any mad animal, they should be removed from society.

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't think society is risk averse. I think society thinks criminals get let off too lightly. Take Jon Venables, I think he served around 11 years for a horrific crime. To me that is too short and he should have served a longer sentance.

  • Comment number 10.

    Keep prison for dangerous criminals, those who pose a risk to the safety of the public. I don't see why many people who commit smaller crimes are locked up in prison. Fine them, get them doing community service or something; there's loads of litter everywhere that could do with being picked up... save the limited prison space and resources for those who need to be in there so they can stop releasing them early!

  • Comment number 11.

    '...The Parole Board chairman added that society had to decide what level of risk it was ready to accept....'

    This is a ridiculous, woolly statement. He is talking about 'risk' on a macroscopic scale, or as a statistical probability. 'Society' can't possibly 'decide' what level of risk it is willing to accept! People can't perceive 'risk' in this way, otherwise nobody would ever buy a lottery ticket. Our perception of crime is informed by news, which will obviously focus disproportionately on the unusual, thus skewing our perception of abnormal events. Society is made up from individuals, none of whom wish to be murdered, attacked or raped!! What are we supposed to tell the victim, or their grieving relatives? 'Sorry, but we're willing to accept that your daughter was murdered'.

  • Comment number 12.

    How stupid of us!

    Its April fools day!

    I scanned the news for the joke of the day and here it is!

  • Comment number 13.

    The public too risk averse?

    Maybe the parole chief is too risk favourable.

    The public want justice. Imprisioning criminals is a punishment for their crimes, why should they have this mitigated by being allowed their freedom? Is that giving the public the justice they desire? Throughout my life I've been told and taught to avoid risks of all sorts - and where risks cannot be avoided to take measures to mitigate those risks. In this case the risk can be avoided by not allowing parole at all, especially for those who's crimes involve any form of violence, there is no need for mitigation measures.

  • Comment number 14.

    It is nowhere as clear-cut as Sir David (handy hint, you NEVER refer to a knight as 'Sir Lastname' it is always 'Sir Firstname') says.

    General opinion - at least that expressed publically - appears to be that convicts who have committed violent offences, particularly those of a sexual nature (rapists and paedophiles), are released on expiry of sentence irrespective of the risk that they pose as evidenced by apparent recidivism rates (some decent evidence would help here, what percentage of such convicts reoffend after release?). Now, you can argue that by completing sentence they have served their debt to society and they should not be held further based on perceived risk, which opens a wider debate about the objectives of incarceration.

    There also seems to be widely-held opinions that sentences for violent crimes are too lenient, again a different (but important) debate. This was what fuelled perceived 'outrage' in the recent Venables incident: not so much that he is alleged to have re-offended once released, but that he served such a short period of incarceration for his original offence.

    There also are a lot of convicts behind bars who pose no physical threat, they are there for dishonesty rather than violence. Again yet another debate: is gaol the right place for them at all?

    I agree that policy on imprisonment and release needs to be under constant review, but reasoned consideration rather than tabloid headlines please!

  • Comment number 15.

    Is society 'too risk-averse'?

    What do you expect when you've got the likes of the Mail & Express revelling in announcing to their readers on a daily basis that they are all going to get stabbed by immigrant feral yooves, or forced to take methadrone by do-gooder public service managers in non-jobs?

    Every day we get told what a horrible place this country is.

    Is it any suprise that a section of society has come to believe it.

  • Comment number 16.

    yes i completely agree.

    we are constantly bombarded with crime:'out of control' and police:'too busy with paperwork' stories. yet we are locking up more people than ever.

    there is less crime now than there was 20 years ago.

    but feeling safe never sold newspapers!

  • Comment number 17.

    proson was designed to protect us from criminals no matter what they done ,and should remain so

  • Comment number 18.

    The public always want revenge on criminals, and so debates like this always have lots of shouting for harsher sentences. This is just human nature and I'm no different, but in many cases locking people up does nothing to change criminal behaviour.

    If you really want to reduce crime, more intelligent strategies are required, none of which will ever get public support.

  • Comment number 19.

    Heres one for all the do gooders that want to release criminals back on to our streets. You sign the release papers and YOU be personally responsible for any crime they commit again.......Hope that’s not too much of a risk for you !

  • Comment number 20.

    I always presumed the Judge decided what the risk to society was and the sentence reflected this

    Maybe Latham needs to question why his board is there to second guess it!

  • Comment number 21.

    I can understand why people don't want murderers, rapists and paedophiles living near them. If the criminals haven't been 'cured,' their neighbours are at risk. Wouldn't it be better to have a probation period, where released prisoners had no access to potential victims?

    Paedophiles could be kept on child-free islands. Heterosexual rapists could be kept on islands containing no members of the opposite sex. Psychopathic killers could be kept in cheap, isolated accommodation.

    It seems that this government is more bothered about the rights of the criminal than the victim. If an illegal immigrant is jailed for murder and says, "I'll be at risk of attack if I'm returned to my homeland," legal advisors say, "This person must stay in the UK, at taxpayers' expense. It would be a tragedy if this person were attacked, but if this former criminal kills someone in the UK, it's a risk we have to take." I don't see why we should take that kind of risk. If someone abuses the human rights of others, I feel that the criminal should no longer expect to hide behind human rights regulations and be able to commit more crimes. In the case above, deport the criminal.

    As regards criminals that will never be released, remove the 'suicide watch'. If people like Ian Huntley want to kill themselves, let them. It is wrong to spend millions of time keeping such people alive, when people are losing their jobs and homes due to cash shortages.

  • Comment number 22.

    This is a bit of a silly question. Look how many habitual Criminals
    re-offend when out on Parole or under ABSO orders. Many of the
    re-offences result in loss of life, grievous bodily harm and rape, never mind the trauma of Burglary. Just explain to the Public how lenient sentences and letting hardened Criminals back early into Society, having failed miserably to date, will reduce Crime and Public fear. No wonder we are all scared to death, frightened to go out alone at night or let our children out on their own.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's the same here as with every aspect of civilian, domestic and industrial life. The decision makers that decide for others are not affected by their decisions.
    If we are to have a penal system then let's have it administered by victims of crime! Let's have a legal system set and run by victims. Readers who may feel that is a too severely biased view wouldn't think so once they have either been robbed, raped or brutally attacked by thugs.
    I am lucky to be not such a victim but for sure their views reflect what mine would become in such a circumstance, Heaven Forbid!

  • Comment number 24.

    I think he has muddled two very different issues (as has the BBC!). Saying that society is too risk-averse is not the same as saying that prisoners should be let out early.

    In any case, I don't think society IS too risk-averse. Many of the ridiculously over-protective health & safety decisions (such as banning pancake races) arise because of simple economics. Insurance companies charge very high premia for things like public liability insurance, or add clauses such as 'the field must be levelled' before covering public events. They do this because society is more litigous, and more people willing to sue for monetary compensation whenever they trip over or bang their head on something. Society is not being 'risk averse', it is being greedy for easy money, and/or unwilling to accept personal responsibility.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's nothing to do with being risk-averse whatsoever. The subject of letting criminals off prison sentences is all about being soft on crime.

    I would rather not have criminal scum mixing with the decent people of this country.

    Build more prisons, pack more of the criminal scum to a cell with absolutely no creature comforts and make them work for food to survive. Humiliate them, punish them and teach them a lesson that they'll never forget.

    And then when they are released, house them next to the bleeding-heart, liberal do-gooders of this country who put the human rights of prisoners before the human rights of victims of crime.

  • Comment number 26.

    Sentences are too light and the authorities seem to be setting early release dates on reasons of cost and overcrowding. Safety does not appear to be an important factor.

  • Comment number 27.

    bring on the bread and circuses
    sometimes the general public are uncivilised and cruel as is proven in the kind of TV they watch

  • Comment number 28.

    Difficult to answer this one.

    On the one hand we should agree that a fully re-abilitated offender can re-enter society. On the other hand, why put the public in danger.

    I am a Health & Safety Officer so I understand the concept of risk. We start with the hazard, in this case the criminal. All hazards can be classed as high, medium & low depending on the consequence and frequency of the hazard.

    A criminal who has little impact on the general public, say a shoplifter, is not as high a hazard as a peodophile. True the person is more likely to shoplift but the consequences are far more onerous if a child is assaulted.

    Risk is the likelihood of someone coming into contact and suffering the effects of the hazard. There is high risk (where likelihood is certain), medium risk (likelihood is probable, sooner or later) low risk (where likelihood is possible, but unlikely).

    What this report is saying is that low-risk, where the likelihood of danger to the public is possible, but unlikely, should not deter the authorities from releasing low-risk criminals.

    This is where I have a problem. Who decides who is low-risk?

    Criminals are past masters at lying, decieving, and manipulating people.

    We are constantly told that we have too many people in jail, and jail costs money. Is there not a danger that people will be readily considered for release to cut costs.

    What is needed, is a total review, an investigation of the make-up of the prison population. I have read that there are a number of mentally ill people held in prison. Others are people who cannot get out of the system (commit a minor offence, can't/won't pay the fine so are sent to prison).

    Can somebody, anybody, tell me why we and the USA send so many people to jail? (we have 80K prisoners, the state of Florida has 72K). They do not send so many people to prison in europeon countries, why is this?

    If we do have an investigation, lets not just have the great and the good, lets have people, ordinary people, included. People who have suffered from anti-social behaviour, theft, mugging etc.

  • Comment number 29.

    Two very seperate issues here:

    Is society generally becoming too risk averse? Yes. We need to accept that to a certain degree, life is full of risks and cannot be fully enjoyed without exposing oneself to a certain level of risk. We need to stop legislating etc to attempt to eradicate any degree of risk whatsoever.

    On the subject of prisoners being released however, I don't think this argument washes. In this instance the damage has already been done, the individual has already committed a crime. Therefore our reluctance to see the offender released is not so much an example of risk-aversion, more common sense. If we know a person was sufficiently disinhibited to be capable of convincing himself that murdering somebody/raping somebody was acceptable behaviour, how do we go about proving beyond reasonable doubt that he will not do it again? Who's rights take precedence? The right of the person who has murdered to rehabilitation and a second chance, or the rights of the countless potential victims in the community who have never murdered someone? We need to strike a balance whereby we don't sink to the level of offenders by compromising their basic human rights (and by that I don't neccessarily mean their human rights as currently defined by law, I mean real basic human rights, to water and shelter etc), but where it is recognised that criminals should have less "rights" than non-criminals.

    We have paedophiles released on licence, with licence conditions that they are not to go within 200 yards of a school etc. Surely if they pose such a level of risk to warrant this, they shouldn't be allowed on the street at all?? You can (attempt to) control the movements of a paedophile subject to licence, but you cannot control the movements of every child in the country, so even if they comply, they may still be put in a position of temptation by an unwitting child.

  • Comment number 30.

    Criminals are not punished enough while in prison, unless of course you are basically a law abiding Citizen who has fallen foul of our legal system like the Goldfish Lady.

  • Comment number 31.

    Yet another stupid comment from someone who has lost touch with the real world , anybody convicted of a crime should serve their time not be offered goodies to come out , we don`t want them out and it a lot of cases throw away the key. This has got the smackings of Jack Straw who lost the plot years ago

  • Comment number 32.

    Is society to risk-averse or is the authorities who don't want to be the ones to release a prisoner out in case they re-offend and their names are plastered all over the papers? You cannot, except in cases of extreme violent crime, expect to keep criminals locked up forever but prison does not appear to be a deterent, or a means of teaching criminals a lesson. Surely someone has done some decent research which has uncovered the most effective form of punishment from which the offender learns not to offend again? If not, maybe they should.

  • Comment number 33.

    When it comes to dangerous criminals there should be no question.
    Bang them up for their full term & keep them there.
    If they re-offend on release, bang them up for a bit longer.
    And spartan conditions, none of this Playstation lark.

  • Comment number 34.

    Society has become too risk averse in general terms partly because of the actions of this Govt. The 'Nanny State', that has been refined to the ultimate degree since 1997, requires people and organisations to undertake a risk assessment of just about anything they do for fear of being sued! (Lawyers4us etc). Health and Safety police watch over us with a penetrating eye, waiting to regulate any activity that might carry some risk, and armies of lawyers are waiting in the wings, ready to pounce. Instead of litigation being the last resort, it has now become the first 'weapon' of choice. Is it small wonder therefore that people are risk averse! A climate of caution has now evolved and the custom of 'volunteering' - so much part of the British culture - has been suppressed by State officialdom. We need to raise the profile of local communities at the expense of the machinery of State, if this awful trend is to be reversed.

  • Comment number 35.

    I read a news story only yesterday about a murderer who was given an 18 year sentence.

    But, because he pleaded guilty it's reduced by a 1/3( i.e. to 12 years ). Then he will be eligible for parole after half that time, so his actual sentence is 6 years.

    So, he gets 18 years, but will most likely be released in 6. What a farce.

  • Comment number 36.

    Here's an odd concept for you - if someone is sentenced to X number of years in prison, then that's what they should serve. That is the punishment for the crime they've committed. Why are they getting out early? If they did the crime, they should do the time. All of it. No exceptions.

  • Comment number 37.

    Society is far too risk-averse, but this isn't an example of it.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think the judge in question is being quite presumptuous as to why the general public want people locked up. And I believe that his presumption is wrong.

    I do not want murderers, thief’s, violent people, etc locked up to reduce risk to my personal safety; I want them locked up because the crimes which they commit should be punished.

    A friend of mine was attacked in the street, and there is CCTV footage of a gang of boys jumping on his head. My friend now has brain damage. The boys didn't even to go prison. This result does not make me fear for my personal safety, I do not want to see the boys locked up to reduce my exposure to risk - I want to see them locked up as they should be punished. I see nothing wrong with that. The judge is living on a different planet if he thinks the UK is too risk adverse in terms of crime.

  • Comment number 39.

    We need honest sentencing, so that prisoners serve the announced sentence not just a quarter of it. Prison is not just about the slim chance of rehabilitation; its primary purpose is punishment, deterrence, and then protection of the public. The best protection we have against the recidivist offender is to keep him behind bars.
    Even when prisoners have been released on licence and commit further offences they are often not sent back to prison - what message does that send?

  • Comment number 40.

    Excuse me - as has often been stated by members of the public. Life should mean life. I heard again only this week that a murderer has been released after serving only 11 years of a 17 year sentence because some ignorant judge decided it was too harsh. Well I'm sorry, what about the life sentence on the victim (who is now dead) and the family who will have to deal with it for the rest of their lives.

    It's about time the judiciary in this country realised that what we want is a culture where the victim is favoured and not the criminal. If you get a sentence then you get a sentence you don't get let out early for good behaviour. If anything it should be the other way around. If you don't behave you get your sentence extended because it obviously proves you're not fit to go back into society.

    It's not a case of being risk-averse, although with the state of politics and finances in this country we've every right to be. It's about what's right and what's wrong. I firmly believe that the moral compass of the legal profession in this country is completely skewed.

  • Comment number 41.

    Some BAckground:- When the use of the Death Penalty was suspended, against the will of the majority, in the early 1960's we we told , by the Experts, that it would reduce the risk of Miscarriages of Justice. What was NOT factored into the calculations were the ever increasing numbers of Miscarriages in Justice that occur when a convicted criminal re-offends.
    The difference between a murder and a common assault is often due more to luck, and medical skill than the action of the criminal. The ONLY use for a gun is to kill, therefore any use of a Gun implies an attempted murder, at least. The intended use of knives, in most case, is to seriously wound, or kill. It may be only medical skill or luck that keeps the victim alive,and thereby changing the crime record from Murder to Common assault. The stats on Murder drastically under-record the intentions of the assailant, to obtain a correct view of violence in society you need to record ALL assaults where intent is expressed by the assailant. There is undoubtedly a place for the defence of Manslaughter, or even accident, in a few case but the use of a weapon away from the home should normally preclude that defence.
    Whilst I must accept that there is little realistic prospect of Parliament taking any notice of the Public view and restoring the Death Penalty, even for the most heinous crime, the Parole Boards must accept the Publics disquiet with their decisions.
    Sir David seems to think that a rate of re-offending of 1-2% should be acceptable to the Public. He lives in a differing world to the rest of us. What the Parole Board MUST realise is that every time a released Criminal re-offends that is a serious Miscarriage of Justice, every bit as bad as locking up a criminal for too long. Where that miscarriage of Justice leads to a Death of an Innocent, the Parole Board deserve personal blame.
    There is a simple, if brutal, truism that Executed Killers do not re-offend. It was Parliament that decided, against the public wishes, that Convicted killers should be allowed to live. The Parole Board have an over riding responsibility to protect the public, and should take that responsibility.

  • Comment number 42.

    This all depnends what kind of 'prisoner' is being talked about. Persistent offenders, or those accuseed of violent crime that poses a significant risk to public safety or order should not be released on licence. But there are a significant number who are not like this - for these offenders, licence or o other types or punishment could and should be considered. This should not be a soft option, however: after all, these are still punishments.

    But a s a society, we have to both understand and decide what prison is for. Is it to rehabilitate, to protect society from offenders, or society's retribution upon transgressors. In some measure it is perhaps all three. And, in each prisoner's case that mix might be slightly different. I think Sir David Latham is fairly brave to stick his head above the parapet to make this point right now.

    On the wider point, yes, I do think we have become a more risk averse society. Perhpas not by design, but by consequence. The legislation that governs risk management and health and safety in the workplace was designed for laudable purposes but has now become onerous to a point where it is easier to not do those things that are seen as attracting higher risk. And a blame culture that encourages people not to be accountable for their own actions ('no win no fee'-ism is what I'm thinking of here) doesn't help. Together with a media culture of exaggerating some types of risk, we are creating people who are fearful of anything that is not seen as risk-free. And is not good for us as a society. Understanding and managing risk is the only way to actually achieve things that are not trivial.

  • Comment number 43.

    Stating that criminals should not be allowed out of prison is ridiculous. Whether a person is released at the end of their sentence or on licence prior to that, they still re-enter society. The more we can do to help and rehabilitate offenders, the less likely they are to re-offend.

    Treating people as a criminal underclass permenantly will cause them to become so.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

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  • Comment number 46.

    The numbers of those not arrested and dealt with appropriately for offences probably far outweighs the numbers released early from prison, so we may be attacking the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

    My concern is that law enforcement must be seen to be done no matter what the crime or the status of the person committing the crime. We now have far too many laws, many of which obscure offences that have much more serious consequences for communities if they are "ignored". We seem very able to lock pensioners away for refusing to pay their council tax but incapable of dealing with groups of young people whose sole purpose seems to be a wish to aggravate and/or harm others.

    Priorities need to be clearly stated to all of us so that we know what our police are doing instead of having countless projects designed to deal with pure paranoia. I assume that "risk averse" is the PC version of paranoid.

  • Comment number 47.

    I absolutely believe that an offender should be offered the opportunity for rehabilitation - and that includes early release on parole.

    But, for those that re-offend, there should be no parole.

  • Comment number 48.

    Just because more than a hundred people have been killed by paroled murderers doesn't mean we should be worried?
    Most parolees re-offend, and even then aren't automatically sent back to jail.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    We need more people in prison not less. And we need it to be more cost effective. At present its about 40,000 per prisoner per year. That seems ludicrous.

    Why do we have lots of small prisons dotted around and in expensive places like London. Lets build brand new cost-effective super-prisons with 10,000 people in each and state of the art technology to reduce on-going costs. Sure, prisoners families will find it harder to visit ... so use webcams for virtual visits.

    Of course nobody wants the super prison near them. So lets put them next to the new nuclear power stations which will need to be located away from population centres anyway.

  • Comment number 51.

    Society IS too 'risk-averse', but there are levels of risk.

    Letting dangerous prisoners out too early falls into the 'extreme risk' category, and is just stupid.

    So, if risk was rated 1 - 10 with 10 being the most risky:

    British "Society"'s acceptable risk level is probably around 3 or 4. (the "one avoidable death is one death too many" attitude - which leads to excessive elfen safety and regulations). Letting dangerous prisoners out early is probably around 9 or 10.

    Bungee jumping or rock climbing with proper safety equipment is probably around a 7 or 8. To get near the risk level of letting dangerous prisoners out early you need to try bungee jumping with a load of elastic bands from Staples knotted together...

    It would be possible for society to get a lot more accepting of risk than it is now (eg to allow people to use drawing pins without safety goggles, or let kids play outside unaccompanied) without getting anywhere near the stupid level of releasing prisoners too early.

  • Comment number 52.

    Depends on the level of risk, doesn't it?

    If a little chav wants to commit a crime, he'll do a risk assessment. Risk of getting caught; slim. Risk of getting punished in any meaningful way; even slimmer. So he'll have a pop. Why wouldn't you?

    But say I'm the one defending myself from said little chav, or e.g. intervening on behalf of a little old lady. Risk of getting caught; almost certain, as I'll be the one reporting the crime. Risk of punishment; almost certain, as I have an address, I tell the truth (mostly!), and I've been brought up to try to abide by the rules of society. So guess what, I may well walk on by and keep my mouth shut. And why wouldn't you?

    For those of you who say don't intervene and let the police do their jobs. Have you EVER been at the mercy of our Great British Police Force as victims of crime? Utter waste of time.

  • Comment number 53.

    Let's suppose that 1% of criminals released when they meet certain criteria reoffend seriously.

    Then, to prevent one serious offence, we are keeping 100 people in prison, costing perhaps 5 million per year.

    Does anyone seriously believe that spending that much on drug treatment, job creation, street lighting, etc. would not prevent more than one offense?

  • Comment number 54.

    It is a typical opinion of the liberal elite that criminals are blameless for their actions.

    Perhaps if Sir Latham and his ilk came down from their ivory towers and lived amongst the less privileged where burglary, assault and vandalism are a daily occurrence they would be less forgiving in their outlook.

    Pontifications based upon high-minded philosophy fail those who suffer the brutal practicalities of crime i.e. the victims.

    It is the victims who should decide whether or not they are risk averse not those who are insulated from crime.

    Keeping criminals in prison prevents them from committing crimes - how simple is that Sir Latham !!!

    Instead of spending time, energy and cash freeing criminals why don't we introduce "three strikes and you are out" to keep persistent offenders behind bars where they can do no wrong to ordinary citizens.

  • Comment number 55.

    These are two seperate issues, but first of all the arrogance of the authorities never ceases to amaze me. The parole board persistantlty makes decisions, often politically led, that the majority of the public are against, and then when the public doesn't like it the chairman has the audacity to say it is us who has the problem.

    Ordinary people are not risk adverse, social engineering and ridiculous health and safety laws enacted by the government force us to be risk adverse.
    The trouble is that we are raising a generation of young people who see this namby-pamby way of living as the norm and act accordingly - with the result that people now do not take responsibility for their actions, and everything that goes wrong can be blamed on someone in authority, which just feeds the fire for more and more excessive regulation of life.

    Secondly, not supporting the state letting offendors out early has got nothing to do with being risk adverse, and everything to do with the fact there is an almost complete lack of fairness and justice in this country. The same authorities that will punish you for making a mistake while driving, for putting the wrong type of rubbish in the wrong bin, for smoking in your own vehicle if you use it for work, for defending your own home from burglars, for expressing a view, let the genuine criminals off completely or at the most lightly.

    Prison is a punishment, it should be hard - bring back chain gangs, remove all the playstations and tv's and training schemes. Why should a criminal get free training and education when because I work and actually contribute to this country I have to fit my courses around a 50hr week and pay for them myself.

    Lastly, I and many other people neither support or trust the police anymore.
    The police are running scared so they pick on ordinary people who have something to lose (job, social standing, lack of a criminal record etc) while ignoring genuine criminals because they are difficult, dangerous, expensive and financially unrewarding to tackle.
    Through my own experience of the police over the years I would now never call them because they would either do nothing or turn on me, I would deal with the situation myself.

    Until judges, police chiefs, heads of the CPS and parole board are all democratically elected in their area on a platform that the people, as opposed to our masters, actually want, we will never have justice in this country.

  • Comment number 56.

    Crime rarely impacts on people in authority which is why the liberal culture has been allowed to flourish.Public safety and wellbeing must always be paramount Perhaps an expansion of the probation service is more important to Sir Latham.

  • Comment number 57.

    If you commit a crime you go to prison. What is wrong with that. Prison should be a punishment. The criminal should feel that he doesn't want to go back to prison because it was not a nice place. Nowadays we have criminals who love prison life. We should have harsh punishments for offenders. Build more prisons with work houses for the inmates to do a job of work whilst they serve their prison sentence.

  • Comment number 58.

    Wu Shu wrote:
    It's nothing to do with being risk-averse whatsoever. The subject of letting criminals off prison sentences is all about being soft on crime.

    Could you at least attempt to read the story before coming on here and spouting so much right wing bile ?
    The article clearly quotes Sir David as saying:
    The alternative, he warned, was that prisoners would continue to be held in jail beyond their minimum term without justification.

    This is about people being let out of prison once their minimum term had been served and they had met all of the requirements to be released on parole, not letting criminals off prison sentences.

    It is exactly this type of mind numbingly predictable response that he's talking about, it is impossible to have a serious discussion about crime and how we deal with criminals in this country because as soon as the subject gets raised we get the usual reactionary tabloid readers coming out and screaming about being soft on crime.
    We’ve got the highest prison population (per capita) in Europe as well as the highest rates of re-offending and it is down to the usual right wing rent-a-mob who are forever clamouring for longer sentences and harsher treatment of prisoners as well as complaining about the costs of rehabilitation while ignoring the fact that several other European countries have far lower sentence terms than we do yet still manage to have lower rates of crime, lower prison populations and a fraction of our re-offending rates.

    Could it be that these countries trying to help their prisoners become normal and productive members of society is what reduces their rates of crime ?
    Could it be that treating criminals like living human beings instead of treating them like scum actually has a far better outcome for everyone in their countries ?
    Could it be that by copying these other countries that we could actually go a long way in improving our country and reducing the levels of crime we are all subjected to ?

  • Comment number 59.

    I don't think the public at large are more risk averse. The problem comes from two things- first the speed and coverage of events by the media, which puts each crime or incident in everybody's living room; second the insatiable desire of Whitehall and Westminster to monitor and control every breath we take. To either tax that breath or tell us it isn't good for us.
    There is however a well justified belief that the offender is put before the victim because the offender is 'disadvantaged', or in some way a victim of society.
    Disbelief in the justice system will also not recover while MPs can fiddle thousands of our tax pounds without punishment.

    In this country, one person in 500 is a police officer(and there are PCSOs and civilian staff). There's probably one living in your street. They're good, but where are they all? Is there a parallel universe where they go to work? The same one perhaps that HM Govt lives in?

  • Comment number 60.

    With all due respect to the Parole Board Chair, he is talking rubbish.

    Society is risk-averse, but it is nothing to do with any perceived risk from offenders being release early. It is however to do with the fear of being sued for things that never used to attract blame and compensation. Look at how much the NHS spends every year on medical error compensation, or the flow of adverts about "had an accident and it wasn't your fault". Look at the forms parents have to fill out for every school trip, and the things kids are not allowed to do in school any more. Just because they "might get hurt".

    Sure, tighten up prison sentences, and have offenders not straight back in to prison for a repeat offence, but that's a different discussion.

  • Comment number 61.

    In simple terms, if a person has been found guilty of a crime and a sentence is passed, why should they not complete the full term? Parole and early release schemes are all about the economics of government cost of keeping people in prison, not about individual rehabilitation. Frankly, if they cut down on the colour TV's, playstations etc etc then it would be a darn sight cheaper of tax payers. Jail should mean no privaleges. Its a punishment not a holday camp.

  • Comment number 62.

    Society is far too risk averse.

    We have become risk averse due in part to the blame culture, failure to take responsibility for ourselves (its your fault that I tripped its not my fault for not looking where I was going) and fear of getting sued due to ambulance chasing solicitors and those always willing to cash in on their misfortune at someone else's expense. This is why we are seeing school children loosing out on those day trips we all loved as kids and exciting classroom science experiments being banned.

    However, the prisoner issue is a special case - we have lost confidence in "the system". Many criminals have, by default, proved themselves to be a risk and we KNOW that prison does not reform people - in fact it often makes them more hardened criminals. I'd only be happy with more criminals out on license if there was a 'three strikes' system - but even this has its problems. A criminal on his 'last strike' may be more desperate and more dangerous.

  • Comment number 63.

    the only way violant criminals should come out of prison at any time should be in a box

  • Comment number 64.

    Thats so wrong....Prisoners are being kept in Jail because they forfeited their right to freedom by being caught for a criminal act..

    as for risk are not averse to it, the real problem is this nanny state denying us access to anything that might seem the slightest bit risky..things like using salt, eating fatty foods or letting kids play outside.....all way to risky for us soft Brits it would seem.

    Utter Piffle!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Absolutely, we are too risk averse. We have completely lost the ability to differentiate between risk and danger, as most of the the posters on this issue have demonstrated.

    We cannot eliminate bad things from our lives. Bad things happen. There is a statistical likelihood for every event. And this likelihood has to be balanced against cost of avoidance, whether in financial terms or in terms of our liberties. Neither are unlimited.

    Given the facts, we might be able to make up our own minds. We ought to get used to doing so. People behave irrationally, otherwise. Witness the mass switch to driving (rather than flying) after 9/11. Bonkers.

    Just because a prisoner on parole might commit a crime is not sufficient reason to keep them locked up. The cost of keeping a prisoner in jail is enormous. The risk to me of letting them out on parole is very low, and only marginally increased by their early release. After all, they will get out at some point, anyway.

  • Comment number 66.

    Let us look at the purpose of Sir David's organisation, the Parole Board.

    Their remit is to assess the progress that convicts are making in preparation to re-enter society and, when that progress is deemed sufficient, to recommend their release and the conditions of that release. In making such an analysis, the focus should be on the convict himself and how well (or otherwise) he is addressing his offending behaviour and learning how to avoid a repetion of it.

    Where does 'society' come in to it? Either a convict has made sufficient progress to be considered for release or he has not. It doesn't matter what I think: it is the convict that is under consideration. If the Parole Board is allowing its judgement to be swayed by public opinion, it is not doing its job properly.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why is it that the word 'offender' causes mass hysteria? If we look at the number of 'residents' in our prisons at any one moment, add on the number of new entrants comitted by the courts in an average year, add on the number released, early or not over the last, say, 10 years, the numbers of ex-offenders living, for the most part, peacefully, among us is huge. We need to get a sense of proportion here, a serial rapist/car thief/drug dealer fairly obviously poses more danger to the public than an elderly shoplifter or litter dropper. I am sure that we commit far more to prison than is really necessary,fuelled by the hysteria generated by our media, creating some sort of righteous feeding frenzy. As a first step, we should get rid of the 'IPP' sentence, it is causing parole backlogs, in some case, of years, for no good reason.
    Short, sharp, sentences for first offenders and more community sentences, combined with effective supervision, would be cost effective; simply building an endless stream of new prisons, combined with a 'throw away the key' mentality is pointless and expensive.

  • Comment number 68.

    Someone else who lives in a nice secure area no doubt with instant response from police etc , or does he have protection officers near by ! reminds me of ms Smith taking a walk around a unsafe area ( with stab vest and surrounded by police officers ) piece of cake yeah right.
    prison should be for the violent offenders , money crimes (unless with violence ) should be fines or community service in bright colours so the public can see them, anti-social behaviour should also be dealt with likewise ..they need embarassing and should be at all times supervised so they cannot threaten anyone , their highly coloured vest should be "thief" or whatever the crime they committed , most thieves are not violent , but the first hint of violence should be a reason for prison .

  • Comment number 69.

    This is a direct consequence of the sick and disgraceful vigilante frenzy whipped up by the cyncial profit-driven tabloid-mentality media over the recent Venables issue.

  • Comment number 70.

    What utter tosh. The law-abiding majority in this country would like to see proper sentencing in the first place, instead of courts bowing to cleverly spun pleas from lawyers who know how to play the system. And we want prison parole boards erring on the side of caution and protection of the public out here instead of the poor suffering and supposedly reformed criminals in there. If you don't want the time don't do the crime !!

  • Comment number 71.

    I'd be interested to know if anyone who is commenting really does live down wiv da kids as some claim by inference and have been victims of crime or are just authority bashing for the sake of it. Hats off to WuShu again, top analysis as always, full research and getting to the nub of the issue. Always got time for a tory thinker.

    It's down to funding again, these issues are policy decisions as a couple of you have noticed, what operates as value for money in these circumstances because as has been rightly mentioned, society doesn;t give a hoot, or is frightenend of the consequences of doing the right thing. However, if we did have a culture of allowing 'have a go heroes' to operate within the law, what's to stop them murdering in it's name and making up a story? That's what the policy makers have to think about. You can't win, let em go after minimum term, they come out and commit crime, government wrong: keep 'em in, spend tons of cash rehabilitating and trying to improve their lives, government wrong, cissy liberals. You can't have it all ways. And if you want to have a more effective after care service and monitoring through probation, then you have to put your hands in your pockets, stop attacking the public services and pay for the services that you all feel that the country owes you.

    Otherwise, put up, or vote conservative.

  • Comment number 72.

    Releasing someone on parole, under strict controls, and with proper supervision, can actually help them to re-launch their life as a decent member of society. Better than keeping them locked up until the last second of their sentence, and then kick them out onto the streets with nowhere to go.

    Of course there will always be prisoners on parole who re-offend. And it only takes one to sell a million copies of the Sun or the Daily Mail with a few worrying headlines about it. But on the whole I reckon that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people who are not on parole.

    To reduce that risk we need to attack the underlying reasons for crime: poverty, poor education, unemployment and a general lack of opportunities are some, and unfortunately the UK has never been very good at tackling those issues. That is why, with the highest percentage of its population in prison in Europe, Britain still has one of the highest crime rates.

  • Comment number 73.

    Hang on a minute!

    Why are these people in prison in the first place? Did they simply decide by themselves to have a few months/ years holiday courtesy of the British taxpayer?

    I thought they were placed there by the British public because (a) they were a risk to society and (b) they have a debt to pay to society.

    So Sir David Latham thinks we should write off the debt these people owe? Give him the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer - he can write off the debt the country owes as well!

  • Comment number 74.

    Well pardon us, Sir David, for thinking that just maybe early release on licence does not entirely protect us. There have been a number of cases in recent years of very serious crimes committed by people on bail, on licence, or released after only serving part of their sentence. This, unsurprisingly, does not the fill the general public with confidence. In fact, fools that we are, we'd actually like to see criminals serving their FULL sentence, would like to feel safer than we do and would like to feel that the justice system is firmly on the side of the law abiding majority. Criminals know what they are doing is wrong, so if they get caught and imprisoned, then frankly that's tough and they should serve the sentence handed down by the court, not let out early to free up space or save money!!

  • Comment number 75.

    Kids at school aren't allowed to go out in the snow, a janitor can't climb up a five foot ladder to change a lightbulb because of H&S, hospital toilets aren't cleaned with bleach in case someone burns their rear end and adults aren't allowed to smoke in a pub.

    Now they ask us if society is too risk averse...

    The expression trolling springs to mind.

  • Comment number 76.

    Generally we are too risk averse in normal life.
    There should be no parole - give proper sentences and keep to them.
    If prisoners misbehave in a serious way then extend the sentence.

  • Comment number 77.

    For heavens sake, lets get real here.
    They are in prison because they broke the law - it`s not rocket science.
    There are far too many dinosaur magistrates/judges who really need to retire.
    The laws and sentencing of the UK need to be updated to "protect" the law-abiding people of the UK and not protect the criminal, the police need reminding that they serve the people and NOT the other way around.
    Prisoners gave up all their rights when they committed their crimes..........full stop!
    I will never condone the return of capital punishment but, a life sentence should mean exactly as it says on the tin LIFE!

  • Comment number 78.

    Wow, look at all these upstanding and perfect members of society we have on HYS! Or could it be that the difference between a convicted criminal and you lot is they got caught!

    How many of you speed for example? Come on, be honest. Now I reckon, having lost a friend to a speeding driver, that ALL people that speed should be given a custodial sentence as they are, in my opinion, dangerous criminals.

    Like I said, the only difference between them and most of you is they got caught!

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    Maybe if the authorities stopped releasing murderers, rapists and other vile creatures to offend again (instead of prosecuting pet shop owners)we'd be a bit more tolerant on parole.

    This government (and their minions) however are more interested in smearing us as "risk averse" than tackling the real issue.

    Tough on crime they said...... what a joke this government is. I just hope no-one buys it 4th time around.

  • Comment number 81.

    "This is total rubbish" what he is saying let low risk prisoners out its too expensive to keep them inside with all the savings' that the government needs to make because they have given away all our money, to the greedy bankers. We are not safe in the commuity in many citys due to they lack of control of our borders !!! {This is a fact}we have many criminals from eastern europe, and illegals from many other places who are here to get money by petty crime. Risk is a part of every day life for many old ,and young people. We should send them back to eastern europe and they own country, when they break our laws.

  • Comment number 82.

    Here we go again the do gooders are taking over soon we will be the ones inside for our own protection. Oh hang on prison officers are leaving the service and not being replaced so we wont evan be safe in prison.
    Or have I missed something April fools day perhaps no such luck this idiot beleives that we as society actually want these people let loose early what we want is these convicted criminals to serve a full sentance with hard labour not a holiday camp environment. Now we will have someone signing in saying prison is hard on the prisoner well it is not compared to a lot of other countries give them hard labour they would not be so eager to re offend take the TV's away take the good food away take the games away make them sufer like the vitims have had too.
    The above might raise a few eyebrows.
    Prefered the old HYS

  • Comment number 83.

    The whole of society has no concept of risk whatsoever and its the fault of educators for not teaching it in schools and of tabloid celebrity culture. However at the end of the day this question is probably more about politics than acceptable risk. The trend is to resent crimes with individual people as the victims whilst our prisons fill up with people who have infringed some new piece of bureaucratic legislation. I'm surprised that the pet shop owner who sold a goldfish to an child didn't end up in pokey rather than being tagged.

  • Comment number 84.

    This Government have carried out (in the last 13 years) a degree of Social Engineering absolutely unheard of in a so called Democracy. I think if you were to sit Mandelson (another unelected person for want of a better word) and his little camel spit gang down in a dark room they would admit to it. It is precisely because of these so called Socielists that despicable Parties like the abhorrent BNP have a following. Drugs, Violence, Unemployment are all on the rise and is it any wonder. This Country has been utterly destroyed because of unfettered/uncontrolled Human Rights, Immigration and PC gone mad. We need a complete clear out of the whole lot of the snout in the trough brigade, they should hang their heads in shame, but they won't because of their pure arrogance and refusal to remove the rose tinted glasses. Criminals should stay where they are until they have served their full term, 15 years should mean 15 years and Life should mean Life. What is wrong with you people?

  • Comment number 85.

    General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    "Could you at least attempt to read the story before coming on here and spouting so much right wing bile ?
    The article clearly quotes Sir David as saying:
    The alternative, he warned, was that prisoners would continue to be held in jail beyond their minimum term without justification"

    Sadly, it is you who is spouting the usual PC rubbish. Read the sentence again "beyond their minimum term without justification". Since when is the minimum term the justified term; if it was beyond justified to keep someone in prison any longer then that would surely be the maximum term.

    If the state is going to take the position that they are the only people allowed to punish criminals, and have a monopoly on justice and tax us to achieve this, then the punishment should reflect the views of the majority of people, the damage to society as a whole and fit the crime. We do not have that in this country. The state and the police have failed the ciizen, and people like you are to blind to see that.

    General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    "as soon as the subject gets raised we get the usual reactionary tabloid readers coming out and screaming about being soft on crime."

    This is because we are soft on crime in this country, and it also brings out the apologists and appeasers like you who think little of the ordinary hard working people of this country but bend over backwards for those whose actions blight other people lives. I am not a right wing bigot, I am probably one of the most liberal people on this board (pro complete equality for all, pro gay marriage, pro choice, legalise all drugs, complete freedom of speech, universal education etc) but the one thing I cannot abide is people hurting other people, which is what criminals do, be it through rape, assault, murder or stealing property.
    If you choose to hurt others, you should be punished, and in a way that makes you not want to offend again, and not in a way that gives you opportunities (free education, training courses, good food and accomodation) that the rest of us, including those you have hurt, are either not entitled to, cannot afford, or do not have the time to do because they are busy working hard and contributing to society.

    I suspect that your are someone who has very little experience of crime otherwise you would not feel the way you do. The majority of crime in this country goes unpunished because the authorities are unable to deal with the problem, so justice is not done.

  • Comment number 86.

    Government has set a lead where common sense has gone out of the window. There is a "tick box" culture which encourages (a) people to cover their backs and (b) process rather than substance i e "I filled in all the forms so that's OK". People should be encouraged to use their own common sense and judgement, having acted in good faith and honestly. Trust those qualified to do the job.If this results in some errors so be it but at present society is becoming sclerotic with Health and Safety and other well meaning but counter productive regimes with the reult we are the poorer.

  • Comment number 87.

    It's the same old same-old. Politicians, judges and the hand-wringing liberal do-gooders have lost sight of what prisons are for: keeping decent people safe from those who cannot or will not live respectfully among us. The focus should be on the welfare of the victims of criminals and the rights of the law-abiding majority, not on how we can make life more comfortable for the people who (sometimes repeatedly) blight their lives.

    Of course prison isn't the place for council tax defaulters or those who put the wrong waste in the wrong wheelie-bin, but murderers, rapists, robbers, thieves and any violent offender needs putting away. They should serve their full sentences and if they repeat the offence after their release the new term should be double the original one. If they're inside they can't be harming others.

    Just recently a 53-year-old Congolese 'refugee' was granted the right to stay in Britain because he 'had the right to a family life' and was getting married. He had been sentenced to just eight years for raping a woman and then, to add insult to injury, dumping her on a rubbish tip. Sorry, but at his age he isn't going to change his ways; to protect the public he should have been locked up for 30 years and then deported at the end of it. Even better, 30 years in a Congolese jail, which would cost our taxpayers a fraction of the price. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE!

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't know which prisoners are being kept in jail as we only seem to hear of those let out early. With the amount of stabbings and other murders lately it's no wonder that people are averse to all criminals. Mostly prisons seem to be training ground for even worse offences even though we are told that prisoners are supposed to be ing educated to be better citizens and not to re-offend this does not seem to be the norm. People who continually reoffend don't seem to be being punished the just get a slap on the hand and a small fine whih is rarely paid and they go on to bigger crimes.

  • Comment number 89.

    Not at all, I certainly don't want dozens of criminals wandering around on my streets because they know that prison is a short rent free holiday period for them, and there is nothing to stop them re-offending. Could it be possible that keeping them locked up for double the time, might stop them re-offending. Personally, I am sick of living in a country full of petty thieves, criminals, fraudsters and crime barons, and I am not talking about MPs., but the thugs, yobs and young monsters living around most of us these days.

  • Comment number 90.

    So the Guardian gets the story, says it all really.....

  • Comment number 91.

    Not too risk-averse. Too risk-aware without the resources to properly assess risk.

  • Comment number 92.

    In response to the majority of people here who believe that criminals should be locked up for ever and a day, a little story from the US.

    In Florida a state prosecutor demands that anyone found using drugs looses their home. A young man is caught smoking pot at his grandparents house and despite appeals she takes the house from them, (because the young man is a 'risk').

    Guess what happens next; thats right, the prosecutors child is found smoking pot in their parents house. Was the house confiscated, what do you think? (things like that don't happen in Daily Mail land). The prosecutor was quitely removed from office and transferred along with her risk-averse bigotry to some other department.

    Without a true assessment of risk we will have more goldfish ladies.

    With regard to risk-aversion, I work in Health & Safety, the problem is lawyers.

    A lawyer will say: where there is risk there is liability, where there is liability there is compensation.

    If you want to end the compensation culture we must change the law to where someone making a claim must have objective (independant) evidence of loss BEFORE a claim can be made. No evidence, no claim.

  • Comment number 93.

    'Prisoners are being kept in jail because society is "too risk-averse" to allow them to be released on licence, according to the parole chief'

    Because of buffoons like this idiot, crime is out of control. Most criminals are repeat offenders, so as far as I'm concerned such people should never be released from jail. They are repeat offenders because the system allows them to be; no deterrent, no punishment, no cause to change.

  • Comment number 94.

    The public are not risk averse they are just fed up of this government bending over backwards to release criminals back onto the streets.

    Prison is supposed to be a deterrant to crime but under this government's system of administration it has become ineffective because of the many ways in which criminals can get out of prison.This government is so disorganised it cannot even manage the building of enough prisons.New Labour's prison regime is a soft touch.

    It's time that prisoners were made to serve their full sentences and to have them extended in the event of bad behaviour.In this way criminals would spend more time in prison, the public would feel safer, the police would not have to re-capture criminals when they re-offended and much public money would be saved.

    There also need to be a recognition in the Parole service that some criminals will never reform because crime is their career and they have no intention of contributing positively to society.Such prisoners need to be retained indefinitely.

    When you have a police force overburdened with bureacracy, a politicised Crown Prosecution Service, ineffective sentencing,self-centred image conscious politicians and an inadequate monitoring service for released prisoners is it any wonder that the public feels that it has cause to be concerned?

    Prisoners do need to be treated humanely and where possible they need to be prepared for possible release but that needs to be done within the walls of the prison where they are serving their time.

    Maybe if prisoners had to serve their full sentence and some of their more luxurious perks were removed, they would be less eager to return to prison.Maybe too if the government set up post-prison workshops or businesses which only employed ex-prisoners the government could combine prisoner monitoring with prisoner rehabilitation.It could also help in separating those prisoners who have genuinely reformed from those who merely want to get out of prison.

    The government really needs to put the rights of the law-abiding majority above those of the criminal minority and to have more sympathy and support for the victims of crime rather than with those who perpetrate it.

  • Comment number 95.

    And heres me thinking prisoners were being kept in jail for breaking the law......

    Thats not the case its because we are a risk averse society? How does someone with any kind of intellect come up with that conclusion?

    It may be society is risk averse because we dont want criminals on the streets, how can that be a negative thing.

    Personally i think the justice system needs an overhaul:

    Common sense must prevail at all times instead of political correct, human rights tosh

    Police need to have power given back to them to deal with criminals how they like without being constantly criticised, condemned and prosecuted at every turn (again goes back to the PC brigade)

    Prisons should be stripped of pool tables, sky tv, internet etc, lets make criminals pay for crimes not serve an easy sentence in conditions better than most law abiding citizens have at home

    We need harsher sentencing and proper monitoring of paroles and even stricter punishments again for repeat offenders. If we are worried about capacities in prison and that there is a shortage start sending them out on ships or abandoned offshore platforms refurbshed to hold prisoners

    Judges need to always look from a victims side rather than prosecuting them because a criminal got injured while committing a crime. Human rights should go out the window the moment someone is trespassing or putting a family in danger. Who can rule what is "reasonable force" unless they themselves have had to react to protect their family?

    Another big issue surrounding brken Britain

  • Comment number 96.

    What planet is this guy on? We want longer/harsher sentencing, not early release simply because the prisons are full. We're fed up with apologies from various sources about mistakes and cockups in the criminal justice system and it's about time that message got through to the dimwits who administer justice on behalf of the law-abiding public.

  • Comment number 97.

    Law abiding citizens should not be expected to have to take risks with criminals released early.

    Criminals should serve their full prison sentence and then be released, monitored if appropriate.

    Also bring back capital punishment for certain crimes - truly dangerous persons can then be removed permanently and not pose unnecessary risk to society.

  • Comment number 98.

    No, no, no......the prisoners are kept in prison because that is their punishment.

    This valid point is so often overlooked - "rehabilitation" is only a secondary concern - victims want justice.

  • Comment number 99.

    The reason people are becoming more intolerant of crime is because sentences are so feeble, if indeed people are even sentenced at all. We live in a society where the phrase "the police can't do anything" is often used.

    Parole is only supposed to be applied if the prisoner has shown very clear signs of having changed their ways. In this country, it's agreed that the criminal will only serve half their sentence before they've even arrived at the prison. The actual sentences are meaningless. The deterrent is not there.

    In a country where people are committing murder and filming it on their mobile phones "for a laugh", obviously decent people feel more vulnerable as the system is not protecting them.

    People watch films such as 'Gran Torino' and 'Harry Brown' and think they are pure fiction, just designed to shock. However, in a growing number of areas and certainly one area where I used to live, these films are a fairly accurate account of everyday life. I'm not being risk-averse or intolerant, I'm on a heightened state of alert.

  • Comment number 100.

    Sir David Latham is a Labour apparatchik appointed by Jack Straw in February. If you want to know what Labour thinks - just look at some of their appointees - it tells you all you need to know about Labour's views.

    Sir David Latham must know that a significant percentage of prisoners released from prison re-offend. Let him give us statistics on recidivism and THEN tell us that society is risk-averse!

    Of course, just like other senior Labour figures, Sir David Latham is presumably yet another "champagne socialist" living in a "nice area" and unlikely to be affected by crime...

    I hope David Cameron has the spine to get rid of such people from positions of power if the Conservatives are elected. So many of our institutions have been politicised and corrupted by Labour.

    But, if you want criminals released from prison early - vote Labour!


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