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Should the prison system be changed?

02:16 UK time, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has outlined plans to issue more community sentences, rather than send criminals to prison. Do prisons work?

Criticising what he called the remorseless rise in prison numbers, Mr Clarke said locking people up for the sake of it was a waste of public funds.

He said prison had too often proved "a costly and ineffectual approach that fails to turn criminals into law-abiding citizens".

Ken Clarke's speech comes as Scotland MSPs are poised to pass major justice reforms aimed at cutting reoffending rates and boosting alternatives to jail sentences.

Do you work within the prison system? Are too many people being sent to prison? Should the private and voluntary sectors have a role in rehabilitating prisoners? What do you think of planned reforms in Scotland?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think your intro "without any proof it protects the public" is a little misguided!!!! If they are in prison and off the streets, then the public are protected from the foul & despicable individuals that populate our prisons.
    They are not holiday camps!! They should be tough, thankless places and there should be a lot more of them. Citizens should fear them. Once prisons are seen to be the rugged, hard-hitting PUNISHMENT institutions that they should be, maybe the current 10-12 year olds who are growing up to be our future thugs will be deterred.

  • Comment number 2.

    Chris wrote: "Once prisons are seen to be the rugged, hard-hitting PUNISHMENT institutions that they should be, maybe the current 10-12 year olds who are growing up to be our future thugs will be deterred."

    Oh no, not this outmoded WRONG stuff again. Hello? HARSHER PRISON DOESN'T DETER THEM. I know there'll be many others shrieking "more prisons, not less!" "make it tougher!" etc., but it's so pathetic. RETRIBUTION DOESN'T WORK. Rehabilitation does. But then, they and the idiot right-wing gutter press don't really care about anything actually working, do they. Just lash out at the criminals, and who cares if that increases crime. Canada cut the number of people in prison, and crime fell. The entire criminal justice system knows it, and now even the more enlightened Tories know it!

    Don't you lot realise that the Sun, Mail etc. NEED a climate of fear of criminality? Can't you at least try to see why? The day that crime was a lot less would be catastrophic for them - OK, the Mail would still have cancer scare stories, but still!

    The attitude of "he did something wrong to me/us/society, so I want to do something bad to him" is the same as, or even worse than, what the criminal thinks!

  • Comment number 3.

    if a criminal is behind bars he cant commit crime.
    there is no deterrant to crime. prisons are far too soft and criminals have no fear of being sent there.
    if sentancing actually reflected the crime and if criminals feared being sent to prison they would be less likely to commit crime.

    concurrent sentancing is an insult to victims and makes a mockery of the justice system. criminals must serve the sentance for every crime they are convicted of.

    the nastier the prisons are and the greater the punishment, the greater the deterrant and the less chance of reoffending. therefore, in theory, less crime, less criminals and less overcrowding.

  • Comment number 4.

    Before we start all the daily fail rants about how prisons are holiday camps and the liberal do-gooders bite back with how prisons are not the best place to treat the 'victims' of society who have to resort to crime to survive, lets have a few facts.

    There are a significant number of people in our jails compared to say European countries. However in the USA it's worse. (The state of Florida, with half our population as the same number in jail as we have).

    Why so many?

    Could it be because about one third, (30,000 inmates) have mental health problems, shouldn't they be in an asylem? (sorry we closed them all down 25 years ago and let them loose on society).

    When we know for a fact that the majority of petty criminals blocking up the system are in for drug related offences (that is they stole something to get money for drugs) can we just send them to prison for a very long time and save society the money of a long stream of petty court cases. Lets say three offences and they are locked up for 25 years. (sorry we had the 3-strikes-and-your-out gimmick under both the 1980's toriees and nulabour, it wasn't introduced because it cost too much and the judges wouldn't be told what sentences they should give).

    There are a couple of new rules and laws I would introduce to remedy the situation:

    1 Reform the legal system, do away with solicitors/barristers/QC's and just have attorneys-in-law.

    2 Do away with automatic right to trial by jury if it is a minor offence, (I know of someone charged with stealing £15 from a charity shop where they worked. After a two day, £20,000 jury trial they got off, which is why they opted for the jury trial knowing they could, and did, get the juries sympathy, the jury just gave up in the end).

    3 Stop fineing people and then sending them to prison for not paying the fine. If someone has no job send them to prison rather than fine them, but for a maximum of 12 weeks so that they do not have to re-start their benefit claim (which expires after 13 weeks) and so have no reason to resort to theft.

    4 People who are using drugs and have committed a crime to pay for the habit or have been dealing with drugs, all get a minimum period of 12 months in jail but behind glass so there is no physical contact with their families who cannot then pass on to them any further drugs.

    5 An Ill Gotten Gains Law, IGG, whereby any person convicted of a crime has to show where ALL their assets have come from. If they cannot show they are the proceeds of legitimate transactions (tax payed) they are seized. If they have put money offshore they are not released until the estimated amount is re-paid. If it is never re-paid they stay in jail.

    Some of these measures are harsh, some will cost money. But the most important thing is that they are practicle, they can be achieved with little changes.

    So politicians, stop showing how 'tough' you can be and start by being practicle.

  • Comment number 5.

    Apart from the criminally insane those who commit crimes do so because they do not know of a better life or have the wherewithal to achieve it so, yes, there should be institutional reform to help those whose lives have been blighted by a criminal ethos.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well we could really have a go at tackling the social inequalities which are the root cause of most crime, then have a look at our drug prohibition policies as drugs offences account for a huge percentage of all convictions.

    Or we could just bring back flogging and hanging and compulsory national service....

    It won't get the crime figures down, but it will cause immense joy to the Daily Mail addicts - at least until they start whining that we're not flogging or executing them properly...

  • Comment number 7.

    "I think your intro "without any proof it protects the public" is a little misguided!!!! If they are in prison and off the streets, then the public are protected from the foul & despicable individuals that populate our prisons."

    Yes, for a while. Then they're released again and - if they're not changed people - the public aren't protected any more.


    "They should be tough, thankless places ... "

    You try living in prison and see how enjoyable you find it, then come back and offer us some more of your wisdom.


    "... and there should be a lot more of them."

    Will you happily pay for more prisons to be built, staffed and maintained? I'm not sure I would. I'd rather spend my money making sure the kinds of people who end up in prison get changed into the kinds of people who won't end up in prison (and not because they're better at going uncaught), because in the long-term you'll spend far less money building and staffing fewer prisons than you will locking someone up and throwing away the key.


    "Citizens should fear them."

    I already fear prison (in a somewhat nebulous way - it's not like I go around thinking about prison every waking hour of every day), but I don't do right because I fear prison: I do it for a variety of other, more positive, reasons.


    "Once prisons are seen to be the rugged, hard-hitting PUNISHMENT institutions that they should be, maybe the current 10-12 year olds who are growing up to be our future thugs will be deterred."

    Or maybe if you stop their parents getting drunk as a lord and hitting or ignoring their children, if you give the child some encouragement instead of persistently negative messages, if you provide them with an environment where they can explore life while getting solid discipline then you might stand a chance at turning theirs (and the person they might have mugged) lives around. Or you could just keep shouting at them that if they carry on like this they'll end up in prison.

    Can I ask: Do you prefer to be unnecessarily bawled at for doing something you thought was OK, or would you rather have someone who's prepared to discuss your actions level-headedly? Which set of actions would be more likely to get your back up and make you ignore advice?

  • Comment number 8.

    So after 12 months of bad mouthing labour's early release scheme (18 days off a 'normal' sentence) this is a bit of a U turn isn't it?

    Is Ken Clarke now 'soft on crime, encouraging the causes of crime' (by slashing public sector jobs and benefits) ? If he simply wants to 'save money' he might as well just shoot anyone convicted of an imprisonable offence in the back of the head. He could even copy the Chinese and send the executed prisoners family the bill for the bullet. The fact that its cheap doesn't mean its a good idea.

    Of course Clarke lives down the road from me (I used to see him at my local Sainsbury's quite a bit). Now he has a policeman on his doorstep.... HE doesn't have to worry about break ins.

  • Comment number 9.

    Before the big rants come in from the usual suspects, consider the 'rough and tough' prisons of the past or foreign countries.

    They did nothing to prevent crime, so I don't want to hear any more of this 'they're not scared to go there' rubbish. No-one wants to go to prison, some are left with little choice because of the way our society is structured. The problem starts here, not once the crime has been committed.

  • Comment number 10.

    1. At 07:36am on 30 Jun 2010, Chris wrote:

    'once prisons are seen to be the rugged, hard-hitting PUNISHMENT institutions that they should be, maybe the current 10-12 year olds who are growing up to be our future thugs will be deterred.'

    -----

    We have tried the wrathful approach and it didn't work. Do you want to take a step backwards or try a different solution?

  • Comment number 11.

    Stop the silly expensive un-winnable war on drugs would cut prison numbers by 60 - 70 % overnight, but to do so would mean legalising all drugs. But when you consider IF the GovernBent bought the poppy harvest and processed it and sold it through medically biased centres to addicts, it would cost approximately £1.50p - £2 per day.
    Another plus is muggings burglary shoplifting and any crime related to drugs would just stop go away disappear.
    Would the political elite consider such an idea? Not a cat in hells chance is there its giving away control over the adult population to the adult population and allowing them to decide for themselves what they ingest.
    When you consider the cost of alcohol abuse to the prison service and society as a whole it baffles me why the above policy idea has not been implemented or at least ban alcohol as it does at least if not more harm to society as any illegal drug.
    Does the public realise by just legalising and taxing cannabis alone would raise over £2billion tax pounds per year and would save all of us from some of the more barbaric cuts.
    It'll never happen though because we as adults are deemed to stupid to decide for ourselves.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 "Or maybe if you stop their parents getting drunk as a lord and hitting or ignoring their children, if you give the child some encouragement instead of persistently negative messages, if you provide them with an environment where they can explore life while getting solid discipline then you might stand a chance at turning theirs (and the person they might have mugged) lives around. Or you could just keep shouting at them that if they carry on like this they'll end up in prison."

    So everyone who ends up in jail is the product of a hostile society and/or drunken parents? Put that way we should surely pay them compensation not punish them! Of course its hard to blame 'drunken parents' for people like Geoffrey Archer, Jonathan Aitken, Ernest Saunders etc.... people commit crime out of greed not need. Even the actor Michael Douglas's son has just gone down for 5 years for drug dealing.... its not like HE needed the money is it?

  • Comment number 13.

    Vast sums are being spent "warehousing" people in outdated prisons without any proof it protects the public, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is to say.

    KEN CLARK IS A DECEITFUL LIAR.

    THE PUBLIC ARE FACTUALLY PROTECTED FROM CRIMINALS WHEN THEY ARE LOCKED UP IN PRISONS AND THEY DO NOT HAVE THE FREEDOM TO COMIT MORE CRIME AND ADD TO CRIME VICTIM NUMBERS WHILE THEY ARE LOCKED UP.

    Maybe if a UK government had a COMPETANT to STOP ALL DRUG USE in prisons by creating a system in which drugs CANNOT be smuggled in.

    If it means visits behind glass then so be it.

  • Comment number 14.

    It is not enough simply to 'Reform' the prison system, it is time for a complete overhaul of the entire Criminal Justice System, Root and Branch, with nothing off limits. The Prison population is linked to effective Policing, linked to Rehabilitation, linked to how we deal with Juveniles, linked even to perception of crime in Newspapers and even to plot lines in Eastenders, linked to the very Laws themselves. There is even a very close link with education in schools.

    There is no point in reforming any one part without reforming the others.

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    Legalise drugs. Pay The Countries who supply them decent money for the supplies and put them on free prescription. This would stop the drug trade overnight, allow monitoring and rehab of all the now registered addicts and cut the huge number of crimes committed to fund their habit. There is a startup cost of course, but ultimately police, court and prison costs will also be reduced so helping their budgets as well.

    The judicial system now is a joke and Ken Clarke's idea to save money will not help one iota and won't save money either.

  • Comment number 17.

    Our politicians are as clueless and as pathetic as our football team!

    They have signed away the rights of decent law-abiding citizens by signing up to all sorts of Human Rights agreements that do more to protect the rights of thugs and villains of our society than the rights of the decent people.

    Take the bombers who cannot be extradited because they might be persecuted, tortured or killed but cannot be imprisoned in this country either.

    This country is a joke and we seem to be going backwards in time and it would not surprise me that if in the near future you will have to pin a plaque to wall of your house to say you are covered for Police, Fire and Ambulance assistance.

    When will these people acknowledge that they have lost control of this country and we are heading for melt down?

  • Comment number 18.

    Law and order is most certainly one of the most complex problems out there.

    As you have to balance rehabilitation rights of the offender to stop them re-offending with the rights of the VICTIM (yes the victim who was stabbed, punched, beaten, kicked, raped, murdered) and other potentionally innocent people.

    I fully understand that poverty does cause crime, but from the perspective of someone who grew up in a poor council estate with no money, no finanical assistance & no hope who DIDNT grow up to be a mindless thug & has been a victim of those thugs then I feel I have a good perspective.

    On one side we have the right wing calling for executions, 1000 year prison sentences & a bullet in the head while totally ignoring the CAUSES of these problems.

    On the other we have the left who seems to completly ignore the fact that some people are beyond fixing & are consistently let out to rape, murder, attack, mug innocent people & JUSTICE for the family is ignored.

    The simple fact is what is required is a bit of both.

    Considerable steps to ensure that people are not put into a situation where crime is likly to breed (childhood poverty being the most likly), but also ensuring those that CHOOSE to break the law are punished severly & the rights of the innocent are put FIRST.

    At the end of the day if somebody grows up to abuse children, or steal from old women I really don't think the most imporant thing is to rehabilitate those people.

    The first thing is to ensure they are not capable of EVER commiting those acts again.

    With one hand we need to breath life back into the poor areas of the country, getting the workshy back into work, but also giving more to the genuine cases to ensure they are not falling into poverty.

    With the other we need to give serious time for crimes against humanity,

    assault = 10 years, gbh = 25 years, rape = 50 years, child abuse = life, murder = life)

    Nobody who has killed a fellow human for any reason other than self defence, has no right to live with the rest of us.

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    As someone who once worked in a prison, I believe that there should be more access to health and mental health facilities for prisoners. The root cause of offending behaviour needs to be tackled. Sometimes, as others on here have already said, that cause stems back to an unstable or non-existent family life, a torrid upbringing in-and-out of the care system, no stability, no real care. Upon relsease, some prisoners do not have family or friends to count on to help them stay clean and sober, despite beginning to tackle their issues successfully whilst inside.

    Some prisoners find prison 'safe' as it is the first time they have had boundaries, rules, structure and expectations placed upon them. Therefore prison becomes less "scary" as, rather than having things removed, they are being given things they never had. Officers, workshop instructors, teachers, and many others spend their time modelling and enforcing positive behaviour, and using rewards/punishments as appropriate.

    Some officers are brilliant and they play the role of counsellor, psychologist, mentor...and many others, but the prisoners still need more access to mental health and behavioural practioners. Prisoners need to "see" or "believe" in a reason for changing their behaviour and without the right help and support, that can be very hard to do.

  • Comment number 21.

    The way we fund prisons and the cost of crime needs to change so that victims are compensated for loss and the offenders pay for their education or prison from future earnings or future benefits including pensions; even if it takes years to repay society. Society can enable offenders to change and repay society from deductions of earnings from employers or a state corporation to employ contractors who would normally work as self employed, free licensing could control the status of law abiding self employed.
    Once possible offenders realise they will have to pay for their crimes they will have the incentive to chose not to do so.

  • Comment number 22.

    Please do not let this lunatic idea happen ; the public could not care less how long someone in in prison we want them off the streets not wandering about causing mayhem just because the prison system is in chaos ; build more prisons , watch out if you dont ; Mr Clark please note

  • Comment number 23.

    One statistic that's seldom making the headlines is the proportion of repeat offenders in jail. A lot of correspondents are suggesting that retribution does not work, others are suggesting that incarceration removes the offender and his offences, at least in the short term (though with the increasing numbers of mobile phones being used in jail, that's not as black and white as it used to be).
    A new strategy could involve
    a) First offence - imprisonment with the emphasis on rehabilitation
    b) Second offence - imprisonment with the emphasis on punishment - a harder regime in a different type of jail.

  • Comment number 24.

    "2 Do away with automatic right to trial by jury if it is a minor offence, (I know of someone charged with stealing £15 from a charity shop where they worked. After a two day, £20,000 jury trial they got off, which is why they opted for the jury trial knowing they could, and did, get the juries sympathy, the jury just gave up in the end).
    "

    If we substitute "got off" for "was acquitted" then suddenly we see why jury trials should not be done away with. Are you seriously suggesting that if a jury trial is too much trouble then just an accusation is sufficent for a conviction. The conviction rate in a magistrates court is in excess of 90%. Of those who get the right to a trail by their peers rather than a kangaroo court the conviction rate is 38%. Now either jurors are all idiots or magistrates are all stooges. I don't think it is hard to find 12 fair minded people and I don't think it is hard to find 3 hand picked magistrates who will do what's expected of them.

  • Comment number 25.

    Privatising the prison service? No thanks.......just take a look at the US....we already use their companies like group 4 with such a good reputation.....

  • Comment number 26.

    If Ken wants to reduce the growth of the prison population it might be worth rolling back some of the 3000+ new laws that labour bought in

  • Comment number 27.

    #13 " Maybe if a UK government had a COMPETANT to STOP ALL DRUG USE in prisons by creating a system in which drugs CANNOT be smuggled in.

    If it means visits behind glass then so be it."

    Drugs are rarely brought in by visitors.... try the guards. What do you expect when you pay £16K a year to prison officers? You have the same problem with maintenance people, laundry people etc.

    Likewise while I have a lot of sympathy with those on this board calling for the legalisation of drugs (especially heroin) none of you have considered the following problems:

    -if you can buy whatever you want here Britain will become the world centre for drug smuggling. The French, Dutch, Irish etc will hate us as every ferry passenger from here could be a potential trafficker to their country (no end of cannabis goes from holland to germany on the train). The US with their anti-drug mania will probably insist on full cavity searches of anyone flying their from a UK airport!

    -are you going to sell drugs to under 18's? If not someone will and that will not 'eliminate all crime' as you all think.

    -while the risks from heroin, ecstasy and cannabis could be minimised by proper pharmaceutical production what about crack or crystal meth? Those are highly dangerous drugs with unpredictable side effects. We have enough problems with people drunk on legally bought booze on Sat night without them adding crack or PCP to the mix.

    -What about drug driving? A breathalyser test for alcohol is easy but no road side tests exist for other drugs of abuse.

  • Comment number 28.

    *1 CHRIS...............Spot on mate.

    Its not only prisons that need reforming, its the whole of the judicial system. That is where the weakness really lies. A friends brother committed a burglary with GBH recently and went to court, His solicitor told him he could be looking at 7 yrs. He got to court, pleaded that he was still upset by the death of his brother 8 years ago, which is why he turned to DRUGS, hence the crime. He got off with a slap on the wrist. PATHETIC

  • Comment number 29.

    "5 An Ill Gotten Gains Law, IGG, whereby any person convicted of a crime has to show where ALL their assets have come from. If they cannot show they are the proceeds of legitimate transactions (tax payed) they are seized. If they have put money offshore they are not released until the estimated amount is re-paid. If it is never re-paid they stay in jail.
    "

    You just get better by the sentence, if you will excuse the pun. So now we assume every penny everyone has was ill gotten unless they can prove otherwise. I suggest you have a read of the Magna Carta which was the document that brought us out of the ages of proving ones innocence and guilt by accusation of ones superiors. Of course there are a few countries with no such legal protections, China, Zimbabwe, the old Soviet Bloc. I believe Germany also experimented with such ideas a few decades ago..

    I too agree with solid harsh punishment for offenders, hard labour, no pool tables or Sky TV etc but only after due process. That is what sets us apart from banana republics, facists and dictatorial regimes of the worst kind. Rather like the one we just got rid of. If this is kind of country you really want then go live in one but leave mine alone.

  • Comment number 30.

    So this unelected bunch, so hard on law and order are now going to let the criminals loose with less police to keep an eye on them.Bet all you Limp Dem voters are happy.

  • Comment number 31.

    It is such a relief to know that the Tories have taken off their old clothes, washed them, and put them back on again. Such a shame the Liberal Democratic costume drama continues.

    What can be 'amazing' about prison population growth, or does it happen in spite of what we do, or, more likely, what we do not do? Surprisingly our percentage game, dumbing down, one size fits all, must be accountable, why haven't you hit your target, conscription could work regime, deals with the symptoms not the causes.

    So what may "Tough on the causes of crime" mean?

    Dealing with our stupid drug laws? That would wipe the slate clean for any number of lags and save a massive fortune in policing, customs and excise, and the wear and tear of the common cannabis user, to name but a few.

    Dealing with the gap between rich and poor? That would change the kind of person most likely to end up behind bars. They would be suited and booted, refined, dare I say almost human. And ordinary people would make much better replacements than the real thing on the outside. Banks are like prisons anyway.

    Dealing with the ruling classes and democracy? That would remove the fantasy that parliaments ever do things for the punter who votes for them. It would also mean we wouldn't have to listen to the latest drivel that Ken Clarke wishes to spew upon us.

    Of course we can always do what we normally do. You can either be in a Prison institutionally, or you can be in a nicer prison on a council estate and make believe that you are free.

    Yeah life is so good, for some.

  • Comment number 32.

    With any privatisation of Prisons there ins an inherent problem. There is an automatic incentive for the companies involved to plan for growth in crime. After all, they are in it for a profit. The more prisoners they have the better. So the prison population will continue to grow. The cost of keeping them in prison will grow. The predicted population of the prisons will have to be paid for even if those prison places are not filled.

    Privatising the prisons is a plan for the failure of law and order. Hardly the best way to "fix" an allegedly "broken" society. More like the handing out of gifts to cronies.

  • Comment number 33.

    Another Politician, another idea. The Prisoners are mainly immigrants first second and third generation. Why do we in Great Britain have to put up with these people coming into our society and then breaking our laws, send them back to their mother countries on release, no ifs or buts no British Passports or right of abode. Gone get out.

    I'm an immigrant.... I reckon about 20th generation. I can trace my ancestry back to Viking, French & Irish immigrants (my family name is French Hugenought). If I commit a crime am I to be dismembered and my torso sent to France, my left leg to Ireland and my right to Denmark?

    We all came from somewhere (Britain was under a mile of ice 10,000 years ago) and much as the BNP wouldn't want to admit it there were black men in England 500 years before there were any English. (A Roman Auxillary cohort of Numidians- South Egyptians- were on Hadrians wall in the 1st century.... the anglo-saxons didn't arrive till the 5th)

  • Comment number 34.

    I have a Radical suggestion to appease both the pro-hanging group and the anti hanging group. Since it is obvious that a dead criminal cannot re-offend there is a great pressure to use that idea to protect the public, whilst there are many who either believe that killing is wrong or more importantly worry about wrongful convictions.
    My idea:-

    1. re introduce the Death Penalty for a fairly wide range of serious violent offences.
    2. Permit the anti-hanging group to stand surety for the convicted criminal. Execution to be suspended whilst the surety stands.
    3. The surety to consist of a binding agreement that if the criminal re-offends the person standing surety is also executed for the suspended offence.
    4. All costs are borne by the Surety.

    Hopefully that should satisfy everyone, it acts to prevent re-offending and also makes every effort to re-rehabilitate. It is the ultimate version of 'put you money where your mouth is'.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    I wholeheartedly agree with #11 & #17 re legalising drugs. It is so blindingly obvious, that only those benefitting directly from illegal drugs, i.e. the major traffickers and the corrupt in positions of authority could possibly disagree.

  • Comment number 37.

    Did nobody but me see the TV programme about prison life in Maricopa County, Arizona.
    Read this...........
    http://edition.cnn.com/US/9907/27/tough.sheriff/

  • Comment number 38.

    I believe we should have two types of prisons.
    1 - Much as we now have for 1st Time Non viloent offenders
    2 - One for violent and repeat offenders :- A harsh regime, providing just the basics, where any perks are gained by good behavious (perks would be Phone call, TV watching, i.e no luxury)
    Food would be basic, comfort should also be basic.
    Criminals make their choices knowing what faces them !




  • Comment number 39.

    The more unequal a society the greater the level of crime.
    Half of children taken into care end up in prison.
    80% of petty crime is committed by drug addicts.
    70% of the UK prison population have mental health disorders.
    To see who is at the bottom of society look at who makes up the majority of the prison population.
    Rehabilitation and remedial education measures and post-release support reduce re-offending rates.
    None of the above are bleeding heart, do gooders, trendy leftie made up figures. They are all facts accrued from official investigations both here in the UK and abroad.
    Bear these facts in mind when you debate this issue.

  • Comment number 40.

    26. At 10:00am on 30 Jun 2010, Matt wrote:
    If Ken wants to reduce the growth of the prison population it might be worth rolling back some of the 3000+ new laws that labour bought in

    Its what John Major did and thats why when the Police caught a man trying to open my side gate with a chisel they were unable to charge him as 'attempted burglary' was abolished under the last Tory govt. They couldn't even get a charge of criminal damage to stick as the CPS said the damage he'd done to the gate wasn't enough to warrant a charge.

  • Comment number 41.

    26. At 10:00am on 30 Jun 2010, Matt wrote:
    If Ken wants to reduce the growth of the prison population it might be worth rolling back some of the 3000+ new laws that labour bought in

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Yes it's Labours fault we have crime.

    It's also Mr Blobby, Immigrants, Communism, Socialism, Lunar Activity and foxes.

    Seriously..., stop spouting you're politically charged nonsense & relise that the root cause of crime is the size and frequency of the poverty gap.

    One thing that is rarther significant is that poverty alone, isnt the route cause.

    It's the poverty GAP, the difference between the richest and poorest.

    Why.., becuase being ethically rich in the western culture is impossible, we gain wealth from taking it from others.

    The reason we have crime like any other place in the world is because the rich exploit the poor and have been scince time began.

    Address this.

    And maybe we can talk about stoppping crime.

  • Comment number 42.

    as a young and naive police officer i asked a detainee, who had only recently been released from prison, why he continued to commit crime. he replied that he gets a bed and a roof over his head, 3 meals a day, tv, games, books and easy access to drugs. he has loads of mates in prison and its an easier life for him in prison than out.

    if prison was an unpleasant environment then criminals wouldnt have that attitude! tougher prisons, tougher sentences, tougher punishment.
    justice for victims.

    further, there needs to be absolutely no physical contact between prisoners and visitors. this would significantly reduce the amount of drugs and other items being smuggled into prisons.

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes of course the prison system should be changed but not by cutting sentences but by cutting re offenders. If this short sighted govt that can only think of something else apart from cutting, maybe if they attacked the cause they would solve half the problem. Get rid of all the luxury items and invest that money in programmes that start to keep people out of prison. Time and time again I hear ex prisoners say quite openly "If I get sent down I'll be back inside with me mates in the warm with 3 square meals a day. It is not prison its a hostel for the homeless. Another area to look at is the probation service and social workers. there is an element in both these peofessions that implys that if they do a bad job, in other words cut corners, the person will re offend causing more work for these profession therefore giving them job security and a knowledge that their budgets will not be tampered with. why do you think the system fails it is designed to out of greed in the hierarcy yet again. Get some basic logic back into the arguement instead of this old boys network

  • Comment number 44.

    If the prison system is to be changed, the entire legal system should be changed.

    Too many overpaid judges and barristers are trying the most ridiculously petty of crimes, which should be dealt with much faster and with less bureaucracy.

    I once had the misfortune to serve on a jury for a crime which involved a theft of less than £100. The case was tried in a crown court in front of judge, 2 barristers and all the other staff involved with such an appearance.

    As soon as the judge realised the exact nature of the crime he threw it out of his court. Easy money for him and the barristers, a royal pain in the backside for the rest of us (including the taxpayer)

  • Comment number 45.

    9. At 09:10am on 30 Jun 2010, me me me wrote:
    Before the big rants come in from the usual suspects, consider the 'rough and tough' prisons of the past or foreign countries.

    They did nothing to prevent crime, so I don't want to hear any more of this 'they're not scared to go there' rubbish. No-one wants to go to prison, some are left with little choice because of the way our society is structured. The problem starts here, not once the crime has been committed.

    YOU ARE FACTUALLY WRONG

    LOOK AT THE CRIME STATISTICS SINCE THE REMOVAL OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN BRITAIN, THERE IS DIRECT CORRELATION WITH MASSIVE YEAR ON YEAR INCREASE SINCE THAT TIME, If you LOOK closely at 1965/1967, it is a STARTING point for MASSIVE increases in crime.

    Government/published FACTS/statistics are freely available on the internet, so have a look before you talk nonsense.

    ALSO, have a look at the correlation of increases of immigration and numbers/percentages of "minoritys" in prison.

    Its NOT because "minoritys" are picked on, its because in certain areas where minoritys are high in numbers, they commit the biggest percentage of crime per race/ and per total local population, hence there is ALSO DIRECT correlation between immigration into the UK and growth of "minoritys" in prison, who incidently now make up a very substantial number and basically ACCOUNT for MUCH of the growth in prison populations, especially over recent years.

    This 'Radical' prison overhaul is MORE ABOUT LETTING ORDINARY CITIZENS EXPERIENCE INCREASED SUFFERING/CRIME just SO government can SAVE MONEY FROM PUBLIC EXPENDITURE CUTS, nothing more, nothing less.

    WHATEVER PC liberalist CRUD THEY STATE FOR REASONING FOR CHANGING/REDUCING PRISON PLACES/NUMBERS/ IS JUST A BLATANT LIE AND DISTRACTION FROM THE TRUTH AND REALITY OF THE MATTER WHICH IS TO CUT COSTS, REGARDLESS OF THE EXPENSE TO THE PUBLIC.


    So what if crime has recently gone down a bit, it is at ATTROCIOUS levels and it is FACTUALLY and HISTORICALLY due to SIGNIFICANTLY RISE again due to worsening economic and social conditions.

    Hence removing those who deal with it, like Police, probation officers, prison officers, social workers, is like DENYING/FAILING to provide an infantry battallion with enough ammunition to face an enemy.

    REPEAT CRIME can EASILY BE MINIMISED/REDUCED JUST BY REMOVING CONSTANT and EASY ACCESS to HEROIN/CRACK etc in PRISONS.

    We are told that the UK will look different in the coming years, yes I am sure it will, but it will FACTUALLY socially and criminally more head towards and resemble Beruit and Somalia than paradise.

  • Comment number 46.

    4 JohnH well said , sensible ideas not a hope in hell of being put into practice though

  • Comment number 47.

    I am sure these proposals and the discussion here on HYS will ignite the feelings of the old Tory hang 'em flog 'em brigade at their annual conference. Watch the lib dems follow the same route.

  • Comment number 48.

    YES! The prison service should be changed but not in the way that is being proposed.

    Let's create a British foreign legion where all convicts are sent to fight on our frontlines and give our Armed forces a break. If there are no wars to fight then we should hire them out like France does, that way we implement army training and combine it with rehabilitation as well as serving time for the country while doing something actually useful.

    Simply making it easier to escape prison just makes crime easier to commit since there are even less deterrents out to discourage crime.

  • Comment number 49.

    I was delighted to hear Kenneth Clarke absolutely slate the stupid questions made by the female presenter on 24 Hour News this morning on this question. Please more of this from the coalition. I guess this will not be repeated by the BBC. More intelligent questions please from you presenters.

  • Comment number 50.

    The growth in the prison population reflects the growth in immigration. Stop immigration, deport all foreign criminals - result, prisons emptying at an amazing rate.
    Unfortunately, our Government would argue that the foreign criminals are needed to do the "jobs" that our own British criminals are too lazy or not qualified to do!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    K9Alfie wrote:

    "the nastier the prisons are and the greater the punishment, the greater the deterrant and the less chance of reoffending. therefore, in theory, less crime, less criminals and less overcrowding."

    You are wrong, wrong, wrong! The punishment is never a deterrant because the criminal doesn't think he'll get caught. This has been known for a long time (except by you, apparently).

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes, yes, and yes it should!

    Half the prison population are not criminal's they are mentally ill, what a disgusting vindictive society this is.

    Obviously if a person is a danger to the public, they are to be confined, if they have committed a particulary wicked act, child killer etc they should be confined for ever.

    But there is no point whatsoever in putting in prison persons who have not paid a TV licence, council tax etc. They owe the government money so the government spends more money in locking them up, daft!

    Use these people, and the petty criminal's etc to fill in pot holes, remove graffiti, paint old peoples houses, tidy up the dross on sink estates. Chain gangs work in the uS, employ them here.

  • Comment number 53.

    The prison population rose under New Labour and crime fell. However as they did many other things too, it does not mean one is necessarily the cause of the other. One could equally have said they got the police to wear high visibility clothing and crime fell. I think the new government is correct to look at what Clarke rightly says is a complex matter, and see if reoffending rates can be reduced further by more economical measures. Although I did not vote for them I welcome their willingness to consider all the evidence from various sources, apparently open-mindedly in this instance. It's a refreshing change from the tabloid doctrines.

  • Comment number 54.

    I honestly think prisons don't work because criminals just go out again to commit crime again, but and we need prisons for criminals who are a danger to the public, murderers and sex offenders etc. Petty criminals it is not worth it as they offend again, someone said to me it is easier in prison than it is on the street, and yes i can probably see that.

    It is really hard to comment as we need them i think criminals are going to commit crime no matter what, prison is not a deterrent. I think young offenders who say shop lift should be made to give something back to society for example work with young people, let them know what can happen what path they are following, Anything is better than what we have.

  • Comment number 55.

    Listened to some woman from the penal reform Trust or something on radio 5 Live this morning.

    So speaking as one of her Neanderthal throwbacks with no appreciation of the social problems that these poor people have to cope with, I am afraid that my answer to this woman is:

    Scrap Parole
    A sentence shouled be fully served. The longer that they are insdie, the more time i get without them committing a crime on me. Hows that for a deterrent?

    Bring back Hard Labour
    Or solitary confinement and subsistence nutrition. Work and you get better food. Simples.

    Make Prison Miserable
    No prisoner should have access to any luxuries. How can the deterring prospect of prison be a deterrent if the criminal knows that they get three squares a day, pool, table tennis and sky TV?


    This is absurdly simple. I don't care about rehabilitation. I DO care about keeping the scum of society away from me. Prison should be Pavlovian. Make it a thoroughly nasty place to be and people won't want to go back.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary is wrong to look at reducing prison sentences. What is needed is an end to short term prison sentences and longer sentences imposed. During this period of longer imprisonment compulsory work would be carried out by inmates as part of their sentence to address their behaviour pattern and belifs about offending.

    Having recently retired from the probation service after serving as a middle manager managing staff for more than 12 years, there is strong evidence that the majotity of offenders on Community Punishment Orders continue to offend when attending probation and under probation supervision. THERE IS ONE FACT THAT CANNOT BE DISPUTED AND THAT IS THAT PRISONERS CANNOT OFFEND IN THEIR COMMUNITY WHEN IN PRISON. Prison for those who offend on an almost daily basis is the best option. In considering such matters the cost to the community in loss of profit by businesses who suffer loss through theft, insurance claims, cost to the health service, criminal damage, trauma to individuals in the community need to be taken into account alongside the capital cost of prisons and the rights of offnders. What about the right of the majority of our citizens in our community to live in a safe environment without the fear of burglary, assualt and the risk of dirty needles left lying around by prolific dubstance mis users.

    A vast amount of money has been wasted on 'What Works'accredited programmes within probation which were intended to reduce offending. Although they were sold to the UK government by Canadians and Americans about 15 years ago as being effective and evidence based,it is however not the case that they have been effective. A vast number of academics have built their career on promoting these programmes and working as a cartel to support each other by joint publication supporting each others views and opinions. The Programmes have been poorly implemented and the conditions attached to them that would have made them more effective not properly enforced by the national probation service and NOMS. The results published were inaccurate and subject to 'politica spin' because the New Labour government invested so much taxpayers money in them between 2001 and 2006. I have investigated the 'What Works' programmes, their implementation and effectiveness as a significant part of my PhD research was related to them.

    The money that has been wasted over the last 8 years by setting up Nationall Offender Management System (NOMS) is a disgrace. In the service 'empires' were built first with the appointment of ROMS (Regional Offender Managers) and then DOMS (Directors of Offender Mannagement). The people appointed to these posts spent most of their time holding pointless meetings and 'twiddling their thumbs' while being paid large salaries.

    So much money has been wasted on political correctness and self publicity instead of front-line services that the treatment of offenders and safety in our communities has suffered. In my opinion the whole infrastructure of NOMS needs to be reviewed and the majority of it dismantled. This is a major area where the Justice Secretary should be looking at improving the criminal justice system.

  • Comment number 57.

    In general I support the Coalition. But for years I've felt that everything Mr Clark utters is wrong-headed, and that he's no "big beast" but a huge liability, and remarkably smug with it for a guy who has achieved very little and whose views have been found time and again not to represent what people want.

    And now this. Someone should explain to Mr Clark these things

    First that prison is not just about rehabilitation. Its about punishment. If the prison service isn't good enough at rehabilitation then its only about punishment. There is no reason why we shouldn't want to punish affenders, and no reason to believe that punishment is not a valid purpose for the prison service. If we get rehabilitation too then thats great. In the meantime I'll settle for punishment.

    Second, society gets the benefit of respite from sending offenders to prison. Thats worth quite a lot even if they do emerge from prison as bad as before. "How long do we want to keep this guy away from potential victims" should be a significant part of the sentencing debate. "Do we actually have room to put this offender in jail" shouldn't be.

    Third, we pay Ministers to get things right, not to emerge rather fortunately from obscurity with the startling conclusion that because prison capacity is limited we need maybe to ration the places! We're entitled to expect more ingenuity and a better quality of conclusion than that, otherwise I for one want my money back. How about we charge people for being in jail? Some prisoners could afford to pay. How about we get the prisoners to build prisons rather than watch tv or take Open University courses all day?

    So think again Mr Clark; or maybe better just think, before exposing your brand of oft rejected dogma to a nation that doesn't want it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Study after study has shown that short sentences without providing the criminal with courses both to aid him on release and also to acknowledge the harm he causes to his victims do NOT work.

    He may be off the street for a few months but as soon as he's released he goes back to the only "job" he knows. The people in the area know who he is and what he's doing but then have to wait and be victims until he's once again in court and sentenced - and so the cycle continues.

    Assuming the courses can be provided in the community trials have shown that the re-offending rate is lower and the costs lower.

    My main worry is that the money will not be found to fund these schemes correctly. An underfunded scheme will not work and the naysayers will have a field day as a consequence

  • Comment number 59.

    Considering a previous question on HYS was regarding the reduction in the police force, I imagine that the prison figures will fall with the amount of police to arrest the criminals.

    Looks they are giving us a two for one on this one.

  • Comment number 60.

    Having lambasted most of JohnHs suggestions I have to give him credit for this one which is a damn good idea. It's plain ridiculous how easy it seems to be to get drugs into a prison of all places. If some reports are correct it's also quite easy to continue to run ones drugs business from inside which could also be fixed by making prison more punitive, for example by not allowing cell phones. I do actually mean by enforcing the policy too.

    "4 People who are using drugs and have committed a crime to pay for the habit or have been dealing with drugs, all get a minimum period of 12 months in jail but behind glass so there is no physical contact with their families who cannot then pass on to them any further drugs.
    "

  • Comment number 61.

    At 08:25am on 30 Jun 2010, Brian Berlin wrote:
    Chris wrote: "Once prisons are seen to be the rugged, hard-hitting PUNISHMENT institutions that they should be, maybe the current 10-12 year olds who are growing up to be our future thugs will be deterred."

    Oh no, not this outmoded WRONG stuff again. Hello? HARSHER PRISON DOESN'T DETER THEM. I know there'll be many others shrieking "more prisons, not less!" "make it tougher!" etc., but it's so pathetic. RETRIBUTION DOESN'T WORK. Rehabilitation does. But then, they and the idiot right-wing gutter press don't really care about anything actually working, do they. Just lash out at the criminals, and who cares if that increases crime. Canada cut the number of people in prison, and crime fell. The entire criminal justice system knows it, and now even the more enlightened Tories know it!

    Don't you lot realise that the Sun, Mail etc. NEED a climate of fear of criminality? Can't you at least try to see why? The day that crime was a lot less would be catastrophic for them - OK, the Mail would still have cancer scare stories, but still!

    The attitude of "he did something wrong to me/us/society, so I want to do something bad to him" is the same as, or even worse than, what the criminal thinks!

    **************************

    Brian, There are certain parts of your argument that I agree with and that is with regards to rehabilitation, however I would like to see a system whereby it is made abundantly clear to the offender that an effort is being made to rehabilitate him and help will be made available to keep them on the straight and narrow, but the responsibility as to whether he decides to re-offend is entirely his and his alone. This approach though has got to be backed up with a tough no nonsense prison system, I see nothing wrong with bringing back hard labour and the like for prisoners that decide that they don't wish to be rehabilitated, after all they volunteered.

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes, lock criminals up for longer and more to a cell.
    This will solve two problems at once then.
    We wont need to build as many new Prisons, and the Police wont spend so much time catching re-offenders.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a pyschology student, and having spoken to many people who have spent time in prison as part of my psychology course, I learned many things that the public are misguided by.

    1st - Prison rehabilitation courses do nothing, all the inmates do is smile sweetly and do the task set to get the qualification. As a previous inmate said to me; "What employer is going to hire me with a qualification with HMPS on it?"

    2nd - Prisons serve no purpose than keeping the criminals off the street, they do not stop criminals re-offending. Some prisons are actually open (Cat-C prisons), one I know of has a public footpath right through the grounds of it.

    3rd - The best way of preventing crime is to look at the causes of it. I can think of a few causes: People have little money thanks to the recession, poor education, some criminals have mental health problems. Fix these problems and crime will go down.

    4th - Some newpapers are saying the fear of crime is rising. So what?
    As Dara Ó Briain said "The fear of Zombies is at an all time high.. doesn't mean we need to have government policies to solve it".

  • Comment number 64.

    Both the 'hang-em-&-flog-em' brigade and the 'long-hair-wools' are wrong here.

    Gaol has 3 purposes: to protect society by containing convicts, to deter potential offenders by being somewhere they don't want to end up and to rehabilitate convicts so that they do not re-offend upon release.

    The only convicts who need to be incarcerated are those whose behaviour poses a risk to society. In the main, this means the ones convicted of physical offences. On arrival - and constantly thereafter - they need to be assessed on two counts: do they still pose a danger to other people and are they responding to a rehabilitation programme. Until they cease to be a threat to others, they ought not to be considered for release.

    The rehabilitation programme should not be an easy option, but a rigorous and robust one which enables the convict to confront his offending behaviour and establish alternate patterns of behaviour such that the urge to offend no longer occurs. Training in life skills and those that fit the individual for employment post-release should also be part of the package.

    Convicts who do not pose a danger to others do not need a residential gaol place, but should still attend a suitable rehabilitation programme aimed at assisting them to 'mend their ways' and avoid recidivism. This can include elements of 'community payback' labour as well as training.

    Instead of sentencing convicts to a term of months or years (in gaol or in a community-based programme) the sentence should be based on successful completion of the programme to which they are assigned and, for those who originally pose a danger to others, assessment that they are no longer a risk.

    PS. Anyone need a Director of Prisons? I'm job-hunting...

  • Comment number 65.

    It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that people in prison are not able to re-offend.

  • Comment number 66.

    2 brian

    " RETRIBUTION DOESN'T WORK. Rehabilitation does. But then, they and the idiot right-wing gutter press don't really care about anything actually working, do they. Just lash out at the criminals, and who cares if that increases crime."

    Or maybe the 'idiotic right wing blah de blah' are more in touch with the people who actually experience the problems the middle class BBC/Guardianista types don't.

    Truth is, retribution is absolutely fine, and rehabilitation is also necessary.

    Victims, and potential criminals, need to know that society is prepared to be tough on those who do harm. Equally, rehabilitation is the best solution in many cases.

    So I'm happy to see some people sent to prison for many years, the rest of their life, even. But prison should be focussed on ensuring that they emerge as better people, unlikely to re-offend. Some prisoners are unlikely to respond to that, and it's fine to just keep them locked up forever, in not particularly comfortable conditions. And many would respond better to useful community service.

    There, a nuanced response. Much better than a pc rave, eh.

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't know enough to comment on prisons v non-prisons but I would like to see far more cash being raised from criminals to help pay for the system. Even if they prove they had honest incomes at some point any wealth they have should be used to defray the costs that they then create. The current asset recovery system is only a pin prick.

    What about making their partners pay more to support them in prison? Maybe pressurising partners that way would help cut crime?

  • Comment number 68.

    So somebody defrauds my company and effectively steals £10,000s from the government, far more than the average benefit cheat and we (what?), give him/her a caution. The thing is, I know you really are being serious.

  • Comment number 69.

    #26. Matt wrote:
    "If Ken wants to reduce the growth of the prison population it might be worth rolling back some of the 3000+ new laws that labour bought in."

    Good comment, Matt. The only beneficiaries of these new laws are 'Teflon' Tony Blair and Mrs. Blair's chums in the legal profession. Oh, and the Saville Row tailors that clothe the majority of them. I wonder how much the (taxpayer-paid)legal aid bill has increased as a result of this selfish stupidity?

  • Comment number 70.

    The whole justice, prison and sentencing system should be changed.
    If you are sentenced to 15 years, you serve every day of that.
    Life means you don't come out breathing.
    Really and truly, there are things that people shouldn't be imprisoned for. Council tax evaders should get a hefty community order, so they serve the community they refuse to pay for.
    The victim and their rites should always be put first.

  • Comment number 71.

    #34 "1. re introduce the Death Penalty for a fairly wide range of serious violent offences.
    2. Permit the anti-hanging group to stand surety for the convicted criminal. Execution to be suspended whilst the surety stands.
    3. The surety to consist of a binding agreement that if the criminal re-offends the person standing surety is also executed for the suspended offence.
    4. All costs are borne by the Surety."

    It scares me that you have a vote.

  • Comment number 72.

    "'attempted burglary' was abolished under the last Tory govt"

    Rubbish, simply not true. It is still a crime as it always has been. The CPS gave guidance on alternative charges where there was difficulty in proving that someone was actually attempting to steal rather than break in for another reason. For example, "I wasn't going to steal, I wanted to see what colour the wallpaper was". Under this guidance alternative charges could be brought such as criminal damage in the attempt etc. Quite sensible really when you take off the blinkers and look at the facts.

  • Comment number 73.

    IN ALL THIS, it is INNOCENT PEOPLE who are being FORECABLY MADE TO SUFFER in preference for criminal and negligent people.

    We ordinary citizens are just the consequential numbers to be shuffled around and targetted.

    I just do not see how such a radical policy of non prison sentences can be implemented when the TOOLS for carrying out such a policy are going to be "slashed and burned", namely social workers, probation officers and local police who keep an eye on and spend much time dealing with these community sentences.

    It is NONSENSICAL and DOESNT even REMOTELY look possible, so why just LIE and SPIN about it.

    I tell you what, we so often hear governments stating propaganda/spin/deceit about improvements to so much, mainly singular areas of policy, yet here we are facing MASSIVE changes ACROSS the WHOLE of SOCIETY in ONE SINGULAR STROKE, does ANYONE really realy believe that SUCH massive changes OF RETREAT can be done even REMOTELY competantly, FAIRLY, JUSTLY, ETHICALLY, MORALLY right.

    IF YOU DO, I ASK YOU TO STATE YOUR EVIDENCE and FACTS, because historically I KNOW OF NONE in UK to support this.

    This retreat, is basically on par with Dunkirk, it is a social economic DUNKIRK.

    It is done out of PANIC and FAILURE, and will factually lead to as much economic and social destruction, if not more, than consequential destruction on our retreating WWII Expeditionary Forces.

    THINK of the TOTAL waste of lives/PEOPLE, THINK of the TOTAL waste of equipment and resources, this is basically the price we are going to have to pay for the effects of the banking system. Its not just a £1 here and there, its not just saving money from budgets, the reality is actually quite ATTROCIOUS to enen START to comprehend, let alone its TOTAL outcome.

    And what have we got to counter this economic damage. NOTHING.

    Even the £1billion investment for the regions is £500 MILLION LESS than current level of expenditure.

    I personally would either use an EXTRA £2BILLION from present planned cuts, which are ALREADY ABOVE and BEYOND whats necessary or implement a further £2BILLION of cuts and comit this money to EXTRA expenditure on WEALTH CREATION/JOB CREATION.

    IF £1.5 billion a year expenditure on regional development failed to provide private jobs BEFORE this recession, then how on earth is it expected to IMPROVE upon that with £500 million LESS.

    LIES, DAMNED LIES and STATISTICS, if you are proficient at a combination of two of these, then you are FULLY QUALIFIED TO BE a UK GOVERNMENT MINISTER or PRIME MINISTER.

    LEST WE FORGET!!!!!! LOL

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm sure a lot of people watch programmes such as "police interceptors " and are amazed at the lack of PUNISHMENT which most of the perpetrators are given - they offend time and time again - wasting police time and our taxes - and end up with a caution or minimal community service - they are sticking their fingers up at society and GETTING AWAY WITH DERISORY OR NO PUNISHMENT - if the prisons are too full, and cost too much money, then why not use other forms of punishment, designed to deter from further offending - the birch for intimidation and violence, cleaning up the streets on a Sunday morning for drunkenness in public, etc . that way the prisons have room for hardened offenders and repeat offenders who have not responded to the above type of punishment.

  • Comment number 75.

    Tackle the factors that cause so many children to grow up as criminals, instead of completing their training as criminals in prisons.

    We all know what these factors are. Poor housing, lack of activities for young people, insufficient and too poorly paid social workers to identify many children at risk, the drug culture, insufficient jobs for young people, etc.

    Prisons should be a last resort, used only to contain violent criminals who are too dangerous to be allowed out on the streets.

  • Comment number 76.

    Forget saving money by putting less people in prison. the way to save money would be to make prison so undesireable that not even hardened criminals would relish the prospect of a stay.

    Strip the walls bare, take away radios, TV's and game stations. Have them slop out daily. Feed them what the pigs wont eat. When they're not asleep, they should ALL be out on chain gangs picking litter from road sides or filling pot holes or basically breaking rocks for the good of the nation.

    THAT is how you ought to reform the penal system, not by being liberal and namby pamby.

  • Comment number 77.

    The Prison's need to be reformed but not by letting scum walk the streets picking up litter and making a laughing stock of the Police!
    If Prison life was not so cushy then may be people would stop re offending, I know people that can't cope with outside life so get locked up to be with friends and get 3 meals a day and free lodging!
    Simple solution is, build Laundrettes on site and get them to do NHS laundry thus cutting expenditure to the NHS! Pay them so we do not have the lilly foot Human Rights compaigners moaning (what about the rights of the people they offended?) but charge them for food and lodging, leaving very little left. If they realise Butlins is closed then may be they will not be so eager to re offend and go back in!

  • Comment number 78.

    Long overdue reforms urgently needed. "Porridge" should mean "Porridge" and the more lumps the better. Nobody is FORCED to go to jail and if you don't fancy it then don't go. It's an old adage but true: if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.
    The holiday camp regime must cease and all prisoners must EARN privileges like TV and phone cards. Food should be basic but nutritional enabling prisoners to spend their working hours in gainful employment to pay for their keep while also making reparations to the victims, (remember them ?)
    The current prison population can be easily reduced by deporting foreign nationals, illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers.
    I suppose the ultimate deterrent of hanging murderers, paedophiles, rapists and terrorists is too obvious a step.
    Bottom line - Prison is a PUNISHMENT, not a home from home. Go to it Ken...

  • Comment number 79.

    3. At 08:48am on 30 Jun 2010, K9Alfie wrote:
    "the nastier the prisons are and the greater the punishment, the greater the deterrant and the less chance of reoffending. therefore, in theory, less crime, less criminals and less overcrowding."


    Nice theory but it fails to take into account the fact that most criminals are not like you or I. They are criminals because they don't think about the consequences of their actions - for themselves or others. They commit crime because that is the only life they know. Rehabilitation programmes (that have been proven to work time and again) work because they teach the offender they can live a longer, happier and more fulfilling life by working for a living and staying away from crime. If you advocate harsher prison regimes I suggest you do a little reading around the penal systems in Brazil, Columbia and South Africa, then take a look at their crime rates.

    I'm no bleeding heart liberal, but look at the situation logically, if a 4 year old commits a crime it is almost certainly the result of bad parenting. If they then commit a crime every year until they are 18, at what point do you say it is no longer the parents fault? If that 18 year old then becomes a parent and their child commits a crime who is to blame? You have to conclude that these types of career criminal are themselves the victims of circumstance and a self perpetuating cycle of bad parenting. Prison does not break this cycle, it alienates offenders from the society they need to have respect for in order to end their criminal lifestyle.

  • Comment number 80.

    I said in a similar subject, a solution would be to build a large number of prison ships, easily and cheaply obtainable from the many many hundreds of world commercial ships now lying idle.

    I would then create a shipping prison convoy and base it at the North pole or South, where theres lots of iceburgs, then for those in the religious fraternitys, let god do his work.

  • Comment number 81.

    It is often said that our justice system should focus more on the victim and less on the criminal. In other words, harsher punishments, rather than measures that stop criminals from re-offending. And (despite popular belief) successive UK governments have followed that approach much more than their counterparts in other countries. With the result that the UK now has both a huge (and expensive) prison population, and a high crime rate.

    However unfair it may sound, the justice system should focus on criminals, not on victims. Any robbery, rape or murder is bad, but by the time the offender ends up in court that crime has already taken place. There is nothing that the justice system can do to un-rob, un-rape or un-murder the victim. But it can do many things to ensure that the offender does not add more victims to their list.

    The current approach of putting people in prison and more or less forgetting about them until they are released does not help. If you want to turn prisoners into better people, you should re-educate them. Just locking them up will simply not work. Mr Clarke is spot on with that.

    But stopping criminals from re-offending is one thing. Stopping people from becoming criminals is a much bigger task, that ultimately starts with eliminating poverty. That should be the number one priority for this government, and so far I have not seen much that will achieve that.

  • Comment number 82.

    When we haven't had any harsh prisons for many years how can Mr. Berlin (No 2) be so sure that they do not work? There is, however, the evidence from repeated crimes, that the vast majority of criminals are not, nor do they want to be, rehabilitated, despite all the softhearted "do-gooders" efforts.

    I do not disagree with his points about the press, but that does not alter the fact that we need to do something to keep the criminals off the streets. To me, the most effective method to achieve this is long prison sentences.



  • Comment number 83.

    Give young offenders LONG sentneces for their crimes. This will help stop them breeding (they will be behind bars) and having more problem children

  • Comment number 84.

    It is no good changing prisons unless you can also change society.
    FACT
    Prison does little to protect society from MOST criminals. There are a few who enter the system, usually those who are crminally insane, who will be kept out of society until too old to be a danger or for all their lives but most will be released at sometime.
    FACT
    Once you have entered the prison system your chances of being accepted into 'normal' society are poor. You are identified when trying to apply for jobs and most employers, especially in times of high unemployment, prefer to employ people that they believe are honest not ex-inmates.
    FACT
    Being within the system both brutalises you and brings you into a criminal society by constant contact with criminals. As you will probably be unable to find a reasonable job no matter what your qualifications after a prison sentence you will need to fall back into that society to survive.
    FACT
    Very few major criminals move from being honest and law biding to major crminals without minor crimes on the way. They are encouraged and able to move to major crime by the contacts they make in prison.
    FACT
    To change from a punishment system to a rehabilitation system will be long, hard, expensive and require changing society's attitudes so will not happen.

  • Comment number 85.

    19. At 09:38am on 30 Jun 2010, whiler wrote:
    15. At 09:26am on 30 Jun 2010, Happy wrote:
    Another Politician, another idea. The Prisoners are mainly immigrants first second and third generation.

    -----

    BINGO!


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What does that mean, 'Bingo', do I assume you think that is correct? and is there proof about your claims on the prison population?

    Look at http://www.tdpf.org.uk/MediaNews_FactResearchGuide_prisons.htm

    Not government, but an independent group.

    Overseas national make up around 14% of the prison population, (Telegraph website and Home Office figures)

    I find it very odd that people can make such sweeping statements when even the quickest of 'googling' exercises would have blown their own arguement out of the water.

    You really should take the time to check.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think all prisoners should have access to Sky TV, specifically afternoon live with Kay Burley, whether they like it or not, for 18 hours a day - Clockwork Orange style. I gaurantee you will have prisoners begging to be waterboarded within 2 days and zero% re-offending.

  • Comment number 87.

    We've heard all the same old arguments - for and against imprisonement. We've tried some 'hard' ways, and over the last 13 years we've tried the PC super'soft' ways - and STILL we have re-offending on a massive scale.

    Prisoners must suffer while in prison - and loss of freedom is NOT an adequate punishement. They need to work 8 hours a day for their living - just like the rest of us.

    I think dealing with re-offending as a priority - is extremely important. Therefore, I'd suggest that before leaving prison after serving a sentence for a crime, ALL 'ex-prisoners' should then be 'tagged' for say, six months.
    This will not only deter them from re-offending - but may also encourage them to seek any help they need to find proper training or work - since they have less chance of turning to crime to gain finance. Many could be returned to 'normal' life in this way.

  • Comment number 88.

    The problem isn't warehousing - it's the fact that there is simply not enough room in the UK to house convicts. Prison must be a deterrent, not a college to achieve a degree in Recidivism.

  • Comment number 89.

    I dont know what it is like to be in prison,I dont know if the prison system works.We hear people saying it is too lax.others say the opposite.I would guess that if people are re-offending then prison is not working.Is it true that prisoners are better looked after than our old age pensioners?If that is true then there is something wrong with our Government.Is it true that prisoners dont mind being re-incarcerated if they commit other crimes?In that case there is something badly wrong with the governance of our prisons.What discipline is there in prisons,is it strictly imposed?Are prisoners denied luxuries?Our troops exist on emergency rations,do prisoners eat better than our fighting troops?There are lots of these kind of questions that the public need to be answered.

  • Comment number 90.

    40. At 10:09am on 30 Jun 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    Its what John Major did and thats why when the Police caught a man trying to open my side gate with a chisel they were unable to charge him as 'attempted burglary' was abolished under the last Tory govt. They couldn't even get a charge of criminal damage to stick as the CPS said the damage he'd done to the gate wasn't enough to warrant a charge.
    _________________________________________________________



    From March 2005 it is necessary to demonstrate that you have tried to scare away a pigeon before you shoot it.

    You must obtain a passport for each horse you own. This includes ponies, donkeys, and other equidae but excludes zebras.

    The Sexual Offences Act 2003 forbids under-16s from engaging in any sexual activity, including kissing and fondling, in case they mutually 'abuse' each other.



    etc.

    Just a few silly laws here but we arent mentioning the more intrusive like, for example, the terrorism laws.

  • Comment number 91.

    I read from those who talk about harder prisons and harsher sentences, and I read from those who talk about rehabilitation and kindness, and I see efficacy in both arguments. So I have wondered if there's a way that inculcates the best of both arguments.

    When I look at the American penal system, and I'm sure many have received emails about great successes there, I realise something about basic human nature - We need rules and regulation, boundaries to keep us in line, and rewards for good behaviour in the same way that horse whisperers and dog whisperers train animals to do the right things.

    Prisoners need to be broken down then built back up properly to be truly rehabilitated, in the same way army recruits are. The first period in prison should be an intensive regime of fitness and hygeine, sapping morale and clearing away thinking. After this "basic training" inmates should then be moved to their agreed prison where they will be taught useful skills to make them employable and civil when they are released. The standard should be a basic existence, with rewards for those who make progress. This basic teaching allows them to break the psychology that violence or persuasion gets them what they desire and replaces it with societal values of working to achieve a goal bring the reward.

    Of course for this to work sentences need to be properly understood and parole, often after 1/3 of a sentence, needs to be scrapped. If the sentence is 10 years then the prisoner serves 10 years, not 3. There must also be NO jail sentences of less than 1 year from the date of sentencing - as that time in jail does nobody any good.

  • Comment number 92.

    Very curious that Ken Clarke appears to have lost his bottle or is this some ploy to keep the liberals sweet?

    As usual the solution is very simple, as drugs offences account for most crimes, we need to introduce laws and penalties for dealing or indeed even being in posession of drugs that are so severe that even the most stoned junkie will think twice!

    Look at countries like Thailand, the UAE and even Singapore funny how they dont have major drug problems - silly me, thats because they have appropriate penalties, including death!

  • Comment number 93.

    41. At 10:15am on 30 Jun 2010, Mark wrote:
    Yes it's Labours fault we have crime.

    It's also Mr Blobby, Immigrants, Communism, Socialism, Lunar Activity and foxes.

    Seriously..., stop spouting you're politically charged nonsense & relise that the root cause of crime is the size and frequency of the poverty gap.


    ________________________

    Oops did I offend a closet partisan? The root cause of the crime is obviously a problem but criminalising citizens is another so stop being so sanctimonious

  • Comment number 94.

    24. wanna_be_free wrote:
    "2 Do away with automatic right to trial by jury if it is a minor offence, (I know of someone charged with stealing £15 from a charity shop where they worked. After a two day, £20,000 jury trial they got off, which is why they opted for the jury trial knowing they could, and did, get the juries sympathy, the jury just gave up in the end).
    "

    If we substitute "got off" for "was acquitted" then suddenly we see why jury trials should not be done away with. Are you seriously suggesting that if a jury trial is too much trouble then just an accusation is sufficent for a conviction. The conviction rate in a magistrates court is in excess of 90%. Of those who get the right to a trail by their peers rather than a kangaroo court the conviction rate is 38%. Now either jurors are all idiots or magistrates are all stooges. I don't think it is hard to find 12 fair minded people and I don't think it is hard to find 3 hand picked magistrates who will do what's expected of them.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is exactly the point I made. In this case an obviously guilty person, through skilful cross-examination by a barrister, caused enough doubt in the minds of the jurers that they ignored the evidence. Which was that the ONLY person who was on the premises was the accused, they had handled the money (dispite being told not to by senior staff), and they had no explination of why they did what they did.

    This is not a kangaroo court, a rational JP would have seen through the lies in a moment. Half the jury could not believe that the other half could be so stupid as to believe the feeble excuse of the defendent and yes they 'were aquitted' (the half who thought they were guilty just gave up!) . It was certainly not a great day for the justice system.

    The justice system is being used by everyone involved with it and the people it was designed to protect are excluded.

    It is used by professional criminals to prevent them paying the penalty for their crimes.

    It is used by petty criminals to get sympathy from those 'on a mission' to 'do something' to help the 'victims' of society.

    It is used by the legal profession to provide a very lucritive career.

    It is used by politicians to get votes by them giving the illusion they are being 'tough'.

    I am not advocating that defendents do not have rights or that their rights should be reduced. What I am saying is that the justice system is not a theoretical playground for people to argue points of law. It should be based on practicle common sense. We only have a JP system because if everyone HAD to have a jury trial the costs to society would be enourmous.

  • Comment number 95.

    27. At 10:01am on 30 Jun 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    "-are you going to sell drugs to under 18's? If not someone will and that will not 'eliminate all crime' as you all think.
    -while the risks from heroin, ecstasy and cannabis could be minimised by proper pharmaceutical production what about crack or crystal meth? Those are highly dangerous drugs with unpredictable side effects. We have enough problems with people drunk on legally bought booze on Sat night without them adding crack or PCP to the mix.
    -What about drug driving? A breathalyser test for alcohol is easy but no road side tests exist for other drugs of abuse."

    I've got sour news for you Peter, all those things already happen despite the fact these drugs are illegal! Maybe we should make them double or even triple illegal? Let's make them quadrouple illegal just to be on the safe side, that will definately stop people from trying to get high and abusing drugs.

  • Comment number 96.

    What a wonderful idea. Make sure people are given the lightest sentence allowed because then they don't have to go to prison.
    I think I'll try that. When they take my DLA away, which no doubt will happen as they are going to pay private companies to do the tests and a few thousand pounds for each person they the remove the benefit from.
    I'll steal a bit of money, I don't care who off, a pensioner maybe. then I'll use it to have a good old holiday somewhere nice as i haven't had one for 10 years. Then I'll come back, get taken to court and as a punishment given a training course ( something I have looked at in the past but haven't enough money to do )
    Make law abiding citizens poorer and make criminals better off.
    Wow what an incentive

  • Comment number 97.

    We need to rethink the whole legal syetem and make the jail sentences fit the crime. All sentnces hand out should be served in full no time off for good behaviour all low key prisoners should be made to work on community projects. We should send all foreign prisoners back to there country of origain to serve there sentences that would save the tax payer money. Most importantley LIFE should mean LIFE.

  • Comment number 98.

    haha, of course it needs change. just look at how many people are bleeding the country dry sat in prison because they grew a plant. that is a highly amusing concept. £34,000 a year, because they grew a plant. sort out your priorities haha. what a failure of a system

  • Comment number 99.

    41. At 10:15am on 30 Jun 2010, Mark wrote:
    26. At 10:00am on 30 Jun 2010, Matt wrote:
    If Ken wants to reduce the growth of the prison population it might be worth rolling back some of the 3000+ new laws that labour bought in

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Yes it's Labours fault we have crime.

    It's also Mr Blobby, Immigrants, Communism, Socialism, Lunar Activity and foxes.

    Seriously..., stop spouting you're politically charged nonsense & relise that the root cause of crime is the size and frequency of the poverty gap.

    One thing that is rarther significant is that poverty alone, isnt the route cause.

    It's the poverty GAP, the difference between the richest and poorest.

    Why.., becuase being ethically rich in the western culture is impossible, we gain wealth from taking it from others.

    The reason we have crime like any other place in the world is because the rich exploit the poor and have been scince time began.

    Address this.

    And maybe we can talk about stoppping crime.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not sure I agree with this entirely!

  • Comment number 100.

    Many of those in prison have mental health problems but here again we have the problem due to yet another Thatcher money saving policy, care in the community. So many of these people were unable to look after themselves properly and needed supervising. The supervision and support they were given in the hospitals was essential to many. In theory the idea of care in the community was fine and sounded good but in practise the money was not there and many of these patients were abandonded. As usual with the Tories they made the move sound progressive and caring but it in reality was not supported with the finance now they are up to the same old game, Ken Clarke sounds like a voice from the past with his studied stutter. He is now trying to whip up tax payers to question legal aid. He bumbles on, torn between pacifying the right wing bang 'em up brigade and the desire to save money by cutting services. He is now suggesting we should all take out insurance to assist with legal costs. This will keep his pals in the insurance industry happy.

 

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