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Does imprisonment cut crime?

09:34 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A drop in the crime rate is not linked to a rise in prison population says the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke. Do you agree?

Instead he argues that the fall in the crime rate in the 1990s was because of an increase in the country's prosperity.

Speaking to judges, Mr Clarke suggested that an increase in the employment rate had a greater effect in reducing offending than sending people to prison. Instead, he favours rehabilitation and community sentences.

Does a prison sentence stop a criminal re-offending? Do alternatives to prison work? Have you had experience with the prison system?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm afraid to say it's fairly likely that Ken is not correct on this one. Removing criminals from victims must have some effect on reducing crime! Whether it's a significant reduction or not is a different matter...

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely a rise in prison population is directly linked to a drop in unemployment, as a person would not be counted on both figures, therefore it would impossible to separate the cause and effect.

  • Comment number 3.

    What complete and utter nonsense.

    A criminal is removed from society and placed in prison, it is a FACT that most criminals are unable to commit crimes on the community while in prison.

    Clarke is a muppet of the worst kind - not even reality will persuade this idealogical puppet/muppet of the basic truth when he is intent of forcing through a policy change.

    He is basically realatively denying that night follows day, because truth/reality is NOT condusive to that which he wants to change so he denys the relevence or even existance of BASIC FACTS.

    SAME OLD TORYS

  • Comment number 4.

    Is anyone else getting Deja Vu about the HYS questions recently?

    Anyway - prison cuts crime while offenders are inside, though they will often reoffend on release.

    Looking at the bigger picture, Mr Clarke is right when he says that a good economy and plenty of job oppurtunities are the most effective way of keeping crime down.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course imprisonment reduces crime, and it would be much more effective if prison life was miserable as opposed to luxurious.

  • Comment number 6.

    So if you take a crimnal who is at it all the time and lock him up it has nothing to do with the fall in crime. REALLY? Amazing that, they are sat in secure small rooms behind bug walls and can't get out a commit burglary and it has nothing to do with the fall in crime.

    For those that belive that I have a business proposition for you.....

  • Comment number 7.

    The VAST majority of those in prison are UNEMPLOYABLE.

    The VAST majority just CANNOT be trusted, for a start the most repetative criminals are drug addicts, who wants to take on a criminal drug user who will basically steal from their own mothers.

    Businesses in UK have a hard enough time as it is, will they really be capable of providing jobs for those which are of serious threat to business.

    It might help if ILLEGAL drugs were not so easy to accquire in prison. Prisoners have access to heroin and crack as easy as visiting a loccal corner shop.

    GET the drugs OUT of prison, THEN you might actually reduce dependancy on drugs when prisoners leave to rejoin communitys.

    THE PRISON SERVICE IS A COMPLETE FAILURE MAINLY BECAUSE THEY ARE TOTALLY UNSECURE AND ACCESS TO DRUGS IS SO EASY.

    Think of it this way- would you allow pedophiles to accquire images etc while in prison, NO, so why allow drug users to accquire drugs, there is NO SUCH thing as re-habilitation while the MAIN and CENTRAL problem of drug use is allowed to continue under the noses of authoritys.

  • Comment number 8.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 9.

    'Instead he argues that the fall in the crime rate in the 1990s was because of an increase in the country's prosperity'

    There's been a fall in crime???

    But every day my Daily Mail tells me what a horrible, violent and dangerous country Britain is to live in.

    Why would they lie to me?

  • Comment number 10.

    I imagine that the majority of people commenting here will never have been to prison and never had any ties to prison and what it is actually like.

    The one thing that we all take for granted is our freedom, going a walk, nipping to the shops when we need something, going to the cinema etc.

    Taking away this freedom is punishment and it slowly eats away until you want nothing more than to get out, even the hardest criminal won't admit to it but psychologically they'll think twice before committing another crime.

  • Comment number 11.

    If someone is in prison they cannot be reoffending at that moment in time.

    I agree the crime rate may fall due to prosperity - but there isn't much chance of that happening at the moment.

    In the meantime, the real issue surely is victims of crime who are left vulnerable to further problems due to offenders not being dealt with adequately.

    I suppose what I'm saying is, if the same thug comes back repeatedly to my house to do damage or steal items, but the damage is all relatively small, and the items not TOO valuable, AND he's on some sort of course to try and readjust - for how long do I put up with it on the basis that if he goes to prison he will become a hardened criminal?

  • Comment number 12.

    USA Population 260 000 000, 2 000 000 in prison.

    UK Population 57 000 000, 8 0000 in prison.

    Not enough locked up for long enough...

    The UK Has a Hard Core of 300 000 Hard Core Active Criminals. We are just treating our prisons as carousels with roller shutter doors.

    Real Sentences are needed for Persistant Priority Offenders, and Persistant Young offenders. These people have accumilated 3 convictions in a UK court in 2 yrs. They do the most harm to our communities.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Does imprisonment cut crime?"

    Yes and no. Yes, they're not out in the world commiting any. No, they are still likely commiting illegal acts within prison despite the warden's best efforts to stop them.

  • Comment number 14.

    Employment opportunities do not mean people wont turn to crime....A drug dealer will not want a minimum wage job when they can earn much more money tax free by peddling their wares. And if anyone seriously thinks rehabilitation or community justice are putting criminals off, they are wrong. Yes prison is expensive but its a better system than effectively handing criminals the soft options. I look at ASBO's, which have indeed become something of a badge of honour among the young-it has become a joke.

  • Comment number 15.

    I wonder whether Clarke would be saying this if we wasbn't clutching a missive from Osborne telling him that his prison budget was going to be massively cut?

    This is a no-brainer, and Clarke is taking is for fools.

    Of COURSE an increased prison population cuts crime. If more criminals are in prison, then there are less robbers, muggers, burglars, rapists, fraudsters, murderers, vandals, thugs and kiddyfiddlers out there.

    I don't see how anyone can argue this.

    The next logical leap is to say, "If you want to keep crime down, lock them up more quickly and for longer."

  • Comment number 16.

    Clarke admits it is impossible to determine the cause--effect relationships, so it is absurd for him to make such claims about the (lack of) effectiveness of (the threat of) imprisonment as a deterrent. It seems likely there are many factors affecting crime rates, so to cite figures from other countries is of little relevance to the UK, unless it can be shown other factors were similar or allowance can be made for differences. Clarke has formed an opinion and seeks to persuade others. He is manipulating (spinning) facts to suit his case, with little regard for truth...he's a lawyer, that is what they do, it is their job to win, not to seek truth.

    If he is correct in saying greater prosperity is a factor explaining reduced crime rates, it does not mean the threat of prison is not effective. It tells us nothing about that; it is a red herring. We should ask "to what extent does the threat of imprisonment reduce crime? Does the expected benefit justify the cost?". We might also be really sensible and ask if the threat of *real* punishment might be even more effective. We do not need nonsense about "proportionality". The purpose of punishment should be deterrence (surely that is better than punishment, it means less crime and less punishment, so less cost all round) and so the level of the threat should be such as to deter. That may depend on the nature of the would be crooks more than on the nature of the crimes. If the deterrent worked , there would be no need for punishment.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nice of Ken to acknowledge that we were prosperous under a Labour goverment so he's now saying that under the tories crime will get worst and as prisons are already overcrowded we can't afford to put more people in prison.If you want to reduce the prison population build more mental health facilities so that some of the mentally ill people can be where they belong instead in prison where many ended up thanks to the last tory goverment closing them.

  • Comment number 18.

    Never trust a politician when it comes to protecting Society – they will create laws to spy on the innocent, remove the liberties of the law-abiding but will always be soft on crime, the causes of crime and the real criminals because that is the easy option.

    The UK has a significant problem with prison numbers far exceeding places available for prisoners to be incarcerated. For far too long, government, do-gooders and politicians have tinkered around the edges of the problem of mending the disconnect between this disparity by finding all sorts of reasons for not spending public money of building new or improving on old prisons.

    Ken Clarke is doing yet another soft-shoe shuffle to find a plausible excuse for the legal system to reduce prison numbers so that significant numbers of people who should be locked up and taken away form the society are allowed to be 'punished' with any sentence other than imprisonment.

    Ken Clarke is just showing the Conservative Party are no more or less worthy of Public Trust for being the party of Strong Law and Order as they are as soft as the Socialists when it comes to being hard on criminals, punishing offenders and protecting society.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes and no.

    There are people who can never be rehabilitated and need to be locked up for life. Psycopaths and sociopaths are only made safe when they are locked up and will often re-offend once released regardless of the consequences. Even a death penalty wont stop them and some even welcome it. These people need locking up for life.

    Some people make mistakes or acts of emotional outburst where they commit a crime without thinking about it. Similarly there are people who think they can get away with the crime so take a chance. The prison system is made for these people and reform programs have a good chance.

    Some people make an insignificant crime but under NuLabour more people were locked up for doing less. By giving short stints in prison, there is more damage to a persons life yet little positive result.

  • Comment number 20.

    there has been a fall in crime rates, but because more heinous and violent crimes are reported almost daily, this gives an unbalanced reading of the crime figures. Also, prison does not work. in my line of work i have been able to see a youth conference take place, as well as see the effects community service has, and i have seen it works, and in most occasions it has a more lasting effect than sending to prison, to be surrounded by other criminals. getting someone into a controlled environment to face their victim, or to be seen in their community and have others know what they did can have a significant bearing on a person. Imprisonment does not cut crime. we need to rehabilitate rather that incarcerate.

  • Comment number 21.

    We all know that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

    There still seem to be plenty of nutters out there to me....and I suspect that many crimes now go unreported because we all know the Polce can't or wont do anything anyway.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well quite clearly the answer is "no, it doesn't cut crime".

    We have more people in prison now than at any other time, and the crime rate is still high!

    It may make certain people feel good to know that people are being locked up, but giving people a feel good factor is rather pointless if the actual problem isn't cured.

    But like so many things in Britain, this is a classic case of tackling symptoms rather than causes - if it was left to the British to solve the problem of a gradually worsening leaking roof, their answer would be "buy a bigger bucket"......

  • Comment number 23.

    When I worked my college vacation at a laundry that serviced a local borstal, an inmate helping to load the van said that the place terrified him and he was going to keep on the right side of the law in future - so what did the liberal reformers do - they closed the borstals because they terrified the inmates.

    Ken Clarke and the real world have a disconnect.

    People securely locked away in prison do not steal cars
    People securely locked away in prison do not mug people for mobiles
    People securely locked away in prison do not commit burglaries
    People securely locked away in prison do not assault people
    People securely locked away in prison do not write graffiti on walls
    People securely locked away in prison do not go shoplifting

    Now do you see the point of prison Mr. Clarke - it is not merely to punish wrongdoers convicted of one or more offences, it is to keep them safely and securely away from the rest of society who are sick and tired of the high and mighty talking down to the proletariat saying they do not understand the finer points of law and order.

    I have news for you Mr. Clarke - we know all to well the finer point of prison when we are burgled or assaulted or have our car stolen and wrecked.

    The current NuLabour and liberal judges inspired "softly sofly no re-offendee" approach does not work, look at the dismal failure of ASBO's and tagging, they are worn with pride as a mark of achievement by the undesirables left loose to roam the streets to steal to sell to make money to pay some of the court imposed fines - yeah, great idea - if you had banged them up they would not be out there re-offending.

  • Comment number 24.

    I suggest that we put offenders into jail and then 'treat' them. Most are either drug addicts and / or have mental problems (ie Raul Moat was a paranoid narcissus). We should use a mixture of state and charities to help these offenders IN JAIL. Jail should not be a place where offenders can get drugs and mobile phones to continue their criminality. Offenders should be asset stripped and denied right to vote.

  • Comment number 25.

    Criminals need to get a life & if we can prepare them for it then they will be weaned off crime.

  • Comment number 26.

    When I was a Cop my BCU (Basic Command Unit) had a constantly monitored List of Persistent priority offenders, and Persistent Juvenile offenders. These people had achieved three convictions within the space of 2 yrs. They were monitored by the Police, and the NOMS (National Offender Management Service). We had officers visiting these people in prison prior to release to tell them have there release was going to be monitored. The prisoner had to participate with drug rehab, apply for jobs, and not to associate with criminals.
    I must say that there was some success, with certain Drug addicts wishing to give up, and break the cycle of petty offending for subsistence drugs purchase. The majority of Criminals would just laugh, and play the game to get early release. You could tell that they were out, because there particular Modus operandi of offending would appear on Daily crime figures.
    You have to appreciate that there are by far more active criminals than Cops on the streets.
    I have spoken to Hundreds, if not thousands of offenders, in order to see what makes they tick. The majority who are not Drugs dependant believe that it is a Bona Fida form of living... They called it "Earning".
    One 20yr old lad, who in all fairness was very polite when frequently arrested said to me, " Well Sarge, how much do earn a day then? I earn two to three Hundred pounds a night, and I don’t hurt anybody".
    This lad went to an Affluent area of the City, where there were large detached houses in private grounds, and gained access to insecure Cars. He collected money, Credit Cards, Mobile phones from Glove boxes and ashtrays. He said the trick was, never to break into a car, and never take all the property. The owner of the vehicle would possibly assume that his / her partner had taken the change or phone. Therefore the vehicle would be safe to harvest another day. This also meant if he was stopped by the police with a load of change, we would struggle to identify its loser. Also he would conceal stolen good inside large plastic recycling bins. He would do the crime, and then come back a few hours later when a different shift of police officers was on duty.
    A very clever and calculating Youngman, for him, prison was an occupational Hazard. He knew if caught, he would only get a very very short or community sentence.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ken knows we haven't any money to build any new prisons or fund them, so he is desperate to release prisoners.
    Bad news story today being buried -The true scale of Britain's national indebtedness was laid bare by the Office for National Statistics yesterday: almost £4 trillion, or £4,000bn, about four times higher than previously acknowledged. If the current generation of taxpayers wanted to remove the higher bills facing their children and grandchildren, they would now be paying around 30 per cent more in tax. - We all know the public wouldn't wear this. So it doesn't matter if the drop in crime is linked to the increase in prisoners because a decrease is coming fast and probably an increase in crime.

  • Comment number 28.

    It does and it doesn't. By that I mean if someone is in prison then obviously they can't commit crimes (at least not crime that will harm the general public). However prison is no longer a deterrent for a lot of people. So prison isn't solving the problem. It no longer seems to rehabilitate although this is obviously not true in every single case.

    Those who say prison is like a holiday are over exagerating but prison is definitely not as tough as it should be.

    How many times do you try rehabilitating someone? In my opinion it should be 3 strikes and you are out. Lethal injection or swinging by their neck. No more soft touch.

  • Comment number 29.

    AS A POLICE OFFICER I CAN TELL YOU THAT PRISON DOES WORK. I CAN'T COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I'VE GONE TO CHARGE SOMEONE WITH AN OFFENCE AND THEIR REPLY TO CAUTION IS SOMETHING DOWN THE LINES OF "DOESN'T MATTER, YOU DON'T GO TO PRISON FOR ....(CRIME)... ANYWAY"
    YET IF WE GO LOOKING FOR SOMEONE AND THEY KNOW THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THEY ARE GOING DOWN THEY WILL DO EVERYTHING TO GET AWAY.

    SHORT SENTENCES DO NOT WORK, COMMUNITY ORDERS ARE A JOKE TO THESE PEOPLE WHO CAUSE TROUBLE. WE NEED A 3 STRIKES AND YOUR OUT RULE IN THIS COUNTRY WHICH IS STUCK TO WITH OUT EXCEPTION. IF YOU COMMIT CRIME TWICE AND THEN ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME THE THIRD TIME, TOUGH, U HAD UR CHANCE

  • Comment number 30.

    No, imprisonment on its own does not seem to cut crime. Imprisonment with a proper prisoner reform policy might work. Visible policing, high detection rates, crime prevention strategies by the public, appropriate sentencing and as Ken Clarke says, economic well-being are also very important factors.

    I was impressed by Ken Clarke's attitude in recognising that falling crime was more likely the result of the prosperity of the last 13 years or so and of the efforts of Labour home secretaries. Thank you Ken for not coming out with the usual political script.

    Ken Clarke has a golden opportunity to radically change the system to prevent criminals re offending. Good luck to him. I hope his less imaginative colleagues allow him to.

  • Comment number 31.

    The fear of prison used to cut crime but since it's all sky tv and free internet nowadays it's no longer seen as the soap on the rope hilton hell that scallies feared in the past.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Instead he argues that the fall in the crime rate in the 1990s was because of an increase in the country's prosperity."

    It may have escaped your notice Mr. Clarke, but we are in the middle of an economic crisis brought about mainly by Gordon Brown's financial mismanagement and deregulation of the banks, NuLabours general incompetance and abject bending over for Europe, and the Tory disdain of the fact that greed is not good when it means banks go belly up costing us collectively £197 billion - soon the loss of jobs and a dismal future of continued high long term core unemployement bodes ill for the nation - cutting the prison population and cutting the police numbers do not help in the least.

    Talk about people living in ivory towers being out of touch.

  • Comment number 33.

    Prison only works if its main goal is rehabilitation. If its just about locking people away out of society then you create a more dangerous criminal and a society unprepared to deal with the individual when released.

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    We need "Three strikes and you are out for 15 years".

    Prison sentences of 3 to 6 months for career criminals - a sick joke, steal a car and go on a high speed joyride followed by the police and get 3 months in gaol - a sick joke.

    Only no-one is laughing Mr. Clarke.

  • Comment number 36.

    //7. At 10:14am on 14 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    The VAST majority of those in prison are UNEMPLOYABLE.//
    ____________________________________________________

    This just isn't true. I understand where you're coming from , but you're not thinking laterally enough.

    Another HYS is asking how this country might cope with up to 78M people. Such an increase would sky-rocket demand for housing and amenities. Now, at the same time, we have a proportion of society that doesn't fit in - for various reasons. One of the most common reasons is that they have not had the education or training to allow them to work, so are unemployed with low self-esteem, etc. And here we can help one problem by combatting the other.

    In America they have chain-gangs who undertake hard labour projects for the good of the community at large. We must be able to organise something similar here. Starting with one of the large tracts of non-arable land in Scotland the prisoners can be gainfully employed clearing the area, setting the underground infrastructure and then building housing and amenities to create a new town. Once this is off the ground it can be ever expended to cope with the rising population of our country. the up side for the prisoners is that they are gainfully employed, work towards a useful vocational qualification, and gain moveable skills that they can then take elsewhere, or even to other countries. And in the meantime their actually working for the cost of keeping them.

    For those who suggest this wouldn't change them, I point out such places as Australia. It was basically populated with the criminals from this country who, on landing, had to make a new life and learn new and useful skills. I'm no bleeding-heart liberal, but I do believe that if someone has something positive in their life then they're much less likely to endanger that for short-term gain. Being usefully employed, learning new skills, creating a positive future, and being part of something good all help. I would suggest that this idea would reduce re-offending by well over half.

    So while imprisonment itself may, or may not, cut crime in the short-term, making people useful within society reaps much larger benefits.

  • Comment number 37.

    Between 1997 and 2010 the prison population nearly doubled (from about 44,000 to 85,000) and this was at a time (until 2008) of strong economic growth and rising employment. Yet many in the right wing press and on here berated Labour and the crminal justice system for being soft on crime.

    What actually happened was that many people who would previously have been held in mental institutions or drug rehabilitation centres got sent to prison instead. There was probably no impact on the amount of crime.

    Ken Clarke is right to question whether prison works. For those on short sentences there is not time to rehabilitate them but they are in long enough to learn "new tricks" and to become unemployable, hence are likely to reoffend.

  • Comment number 38.

    If prison does not relate to a drop in crime, why not? We invest so much public money into the system, so our hirelings, including Ken Clarke. should ensure we are receiving value for our money.
    Prison is not solely for rehabilitation, it was initially introduced as punishment in our distant history.

  • Comment number 39.

    19. At 10:53am on 14 Jul 2010, in_the_uk wrote:
    Yes and no.

    There are people who can never be rehabilitated and need to be locked up for life. Psycopaths and sociopaths are only made safe when they are locked up and will often re-offend once released regardless of the consequences. Even a death penalty wont stop them and some even welcome it.

    -----

    Are we talking about criminals here, or the undead?

  • Comment number 40.

    Haha! I'm inding the responses on here quite amusing. Of course while someone is in prison they cannot commit crime that is not what is in dispute here. It is that long term prison sentences do not work to reduce reoffending rates once they are out of prison. It is more likely to increase their reason to commit crime because they have less skills and education and because we toss them out of prison with no preparation.

    "Then why let them out in the first place!" Of course keep people locked up for the rest of their life.....but that costs the taxpayer lots of money to pay for these people in prison who are contributing nothing to society and I bet you will all be moaning about that if it were the case.

    You will never be happy with what the Government is doing so why don't you stop moaning and do something yourself.

  • Comment number 41.

    "10. At 10:23am on 14 Jul 2010, Tony273 wrote:
    I imagine that the majority of people commenting here will never have been to prison and never had any ties to prison and what it is actually like.

    The one thing that we all take for granted is our freedom, going a walk, nipping to the shops when we need something, going to the cinema etc.

    Taking away this freedom is punishment and it slowly eats away until you want nothing more than to get out, even the hardest criminal won't admit to it but psychologically they'll think twice before committing another crime."


    You explain re-offenders how?

  • Comment number 42.

    Kenneth Clarke did say it was his opinion and that's all it is.

    Fact is, criminals locked up cannot commit crimes outside. (They could possibly be organising crime elsewhere but that's a different story. It needs some really tough measures to deal with contraband mobile phones in prisons).

    My opinion is that few politicians are ever the targets of crime because they are pampered with swathes of protection, so it is not a realm in which they have much experience. Kenneth Clarke and Mrs Harperson in her bulletproof vest need to live in South London unprotected for a couple of years. Then they might learn what life is about and understand why the public at large is happy to see criminals locked up.

  • Comment number 43.

    "17. At 10:46am on 14 Jul 2010, Caithnessman wrote:
    Nice of Ken to acknowledge that we were prosperous under a Labour goverment"

    One small point - Labour only came into power in 1997 - the rest of the 1990s were Conservative government!

  • Comment number 44.

    It is surely a gathering place for criminals to network and learn new tools of the trade to act upon leaving prison.
    The reintroduction of the death penalty in the US, a few decades back did not result in a drop in murders etc... that attracted a death sentence, so the death sentence is NOT a deterrent.
    I would say Ken Clark is largely right as we chuck people in prison and leave them to rot, rather than to re-educate them to a normal life when they leave.
    Dont we hear of Muslims radicalised once IN prison?

  • Comment number 45.

    I know that prison doesn't work as a means to get someone out of the criminal mindset but it does have one benefit, it takes criminals, dangerous people (I know not all criminals are violent) etc... out of society) and this is something I'm happy to pay for...

  • Comment number 46.

    Ken is right.
    Obviously the public need protecting from dangerous criminals. But the re-offending rate for people going to prison is very high. Criminals are locked up with nothing to do, except take drugs and sit around. Its a waste of tax payers money. Criminals that arent dangerous to the public should be made to work and do community service, give something back to the community and tax payer. Hopefully it will also give them a chance to learn a new skill and be able to work in the future rather than just re-offend and go back to prison for a few weeks.

  • Comment number 47.

    To use Ken Clarkes logic, as the country is about to go down the toilet, shouldnt we start building more prisons quick? And no, not the 4 star Holiday Inn variety!

    But until we have a government with the bottle to tell the EU to go and get stuffed its never going to happen......

    Imagine the reaction if we were to build a prison where offenders were actually punished! There must be some old Army barracks available - hang on massive cuts coming, I can see a way forward!

  • Comment number 48.

    23. At 11:02am on 14 Jul 2010, polcirkel wrote:
    Ken Clarke and the real world have a disconnect.

    People securely locked away in prison do not steal cars
    People securely locked away in prison do not mug people for mobiles
    People securely locked away in prison do not commit burglaries
    People securely locked away in prison do not assault people
    People securely locked away in prison do not write graffiti on walls
    People securely locked away in prison do not go shoplifting


    It's you that has a disconnect with the real world since none of those crimes warrants being locked up for life. Indeed most of them (except assualt and burglary) may not carry a prison sentence at all except for repeat offenders. Unless you believe it is both right AND affordable to lock up for very long times ANYONE who has either committed or shows an inclination to commit such crimes then we have to face the facts that most criminals are going to be out of prison within a few months or years of the crime they have committed. If their immediate tendency on release is to commit more crime because they cannot get a job, then what purpose has been served?

  • Comment number 49.

    at last! and a tory at that, the real causes of crime,poverty health or the lack of it unemployment poor housing and compounded by poor education.now the genies out of the bottle have the courage to do somthing about it. stop the cuts to wellfare and the public sector,streamline wellfare in ways for the future claimants and look at ways of restricting benefits to high earners,take this road and a better system may lower the prison population wich would go along way to cutting the deficit for the future as well as the present..

  • Comment number 50.

    No, prison does not work. I was jailed for 4 years in Oct06 and was released in May08 and have been out of work ever since. If I had not had family to house and feed me, there is no doubt I would have had to commit crime to survive.
    There was no thought in prison given to getting back into life on release, no retraining for work as my old career was in tatters. I spent the entire time watching tv in my cell or reading. It was a wasted opportunity - the Prison Service have a prime chance to turn people's lives around, but they do nothing about it. Probation did nothing for me - creating more problems than he caused. I'm now signed off long-term with depression and agoraphobia. Great that is, the system wrecks your life and does nothing to help you rehabiitate. No wonder people reoffend. It did nothing for me.

  • Comment number 51.

    Given that convicted, sentenced and released prisoners go to the back of the queue for jobs, housing etc. and are more likely to offend than people who have never been to prison. The only way that imprisonment can ever cut crime is if the length of each sentence is increased.

    We have had the 'three-strikes-and-your-out' toted by all political parties, yet suprise, suprise, never actually used.

    This is because a) it costs too much and b) judges refuse to be told what length of sentence thay should hand out (they are only given 'guidence' which they do not have to follow)

    If we were to lock criminals up for longer, we would have a prison population about three times what we have now.

    Yes I agree with Ken Clarke statement that in times of prosperity crime declines, that is petty crime. Serious crime, will only decline if we remove the opportunity (I worked for a contractor who had a London sub-office held up by armed robbers, they stopped paying out wages in cash and only ever used bank accounts from then on - no more robberies).

    To go back to old arguments on HYS which includes this topic. There are a significant number of prisoners who are mentally ill and should not be released to the community. There are a significant number of prisoners detained for none-payment of fines who could have been dealt with by other means.

    One factor that each thread ( and the daily wail) ignores is that the level of crime that affects the general public has been in long-trerm decline for decades.

  • Comment number 52.

    It matters little what Kenneth Clarke thinks (except it doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer to see what his agenda is), it's about the system of enforcing the rule of law.

    If someone violates the lives of others there are two ways to deal with it: remove him from society, punish him by incarceration and show society that justice has been done; or leave him to his mischief and tell society it's no good punishing these people, prison doesn't work. Put up and shut up.

    Simple fact is, our prisons are hardly punishment. There are people who commit crimes just to enjoy the luxury of being fed and clothed without hassle. Very little productive work (if any) is demanded of prisoners otherwise they could earn their keep and prisons would cost almost nothing.

    And by all means, if Mr Clarke doesn't like the rule of law, he's welcome to change things. We already have anarchy on the streets of most towns. If he prefers that we defend ourselves by our own law (as was the case in the Wild West) then the least he can do is allow us to bear arms to defend ourselves. It would save a fair bit on policing. And anarchy is the only alternative if we don't punish criminals.

  • Comment number 53.

    If, as 'official' figures claim, crime is falling, why is the prison population rising? I can see only three possible explanations:-

    1. Crime has fallen because more criminals are behind bars - or,
    2. Prisons are filling up with people who've committed no crime - or
    3. The official crime figures are a pack of lies

    Ken Clarke denies explanation #1, so could he tell us which of #2 or #3 is correct?

  • Comment number 54.

    Apart from seriously demented criminals who should be in prison until they die most should never go to prison.It doesnt work and those who are basically a bit slow on the uptake would be easy meat to become career criminals because there is no help other than punishment even when the sentence is complete.Perhaps children should be taught from the earliest possible age what crime means and what the potential punishment could be?As for the vast majority who are put in prison for a range of offences(mostly drug related)perhaps its time to look at alternative treatments or restraints or overhauls of the law-especially drugs -make taking drugs legal but drug trafficking a capital offence?An implant to stop breaking curfews,forced work to pay victims of crime,etc;and for those who are the most dangerous deported to one of the many islands around the UK with no chance of return ever!This could cut the prison bill in half.

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh dear, on my soapbox now. Also fed up with people let out early for good behaviour. What about serving the full sentence, but the sentence is extended for bad behaviour? In turn, apart from the most serious crimes, suppose the sentences for less serious crimes were reduced by, say, one-quarter of the time?

    Too many times we hear of crimes, sometimes violent, committed by people who have been given an early release.

  • Comment number 56.

    a complex issue , crime is punished by the penalty of prison , however the expense of incarceration is not money well spent . the education of children who grow up in communities that have high levels of criminal behavior and disproportionate numbers of teenagers committing crimes should have the opportunity to receive a education that is directed to make a cultural change in the community. The economic reasons for crime are not the primary reasons for criminal behavior. This can be proven by examination of nations with very poor communities that do not have hi rates of crime , they do have a system in place to make a living and exist from resources they have, this is the primary problem with crime in inner city culture , the media promotes this behavior with television and film depictions and violent themed action. the street culture thrives with out opposition , the schools fail to educate the young children in time to prevent them from learning the ways of the older teenagers who have adopted the criminal culture and the image of their world as being unchangeable. Ultimately the government fails to prevent crime , by failing to provide public education that is effective , the media feeds the culture in the same irrespirable manner as the government. The only result is the prison system that fails to convert or change the culture of crime , in fact the media has recently made television reality documentaries on prisoners , as if this life inside is of interest to those on the outside? however the ratings must be show that viewers will watch it. The cultural issue is not being addressed and unless intelligent individuals decide to make an effort to change the educational system of ignoring the problem until the children can no longer be reached. Crime will continue and may increase in the future as the media fuels the lifestyle depictions as ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ .

  • Comment number 57.

    Surely those involved are missing the real point regarding Prisons in the UK. The re-offending rate is astronomical. Why? Because Prison is a safe comfortable place to live rather than face up to the real world. Three meals a day, TV, a bed, no worries about a mortgage or rent, no fear of not being able to pay the bills. We even hear that the convicted killer of James Bulger has a 42" plasma screen TV and private tuition! His guards are so hacked off they are going to the newspapers in droves. If prison is to be a deterrent then it must 'hurt'. No more easy living. It's easy to say that to keep them in comfort reduces the risk of disorder but isn't that just buying a quiet life in the short term, but getting us those repeat offender figures I mentioned before? To hell with the Howard League for Penal Reform and any other apologists, nuts to the so-called Human Rights Convention which leaves us in this mess! We have thousands of builders on the dole so why not buy a really remote Scottish island, build a huge Prison which really IS a prison - no niceties, no escape, nowhere to go! Make them slop out! In short; make prison what its supposed to be, a detterant. Oh, and please stop telling us that putting people in prison is in order to safeguard the public, its not! Its to punish criminals. So, Ken, go look up 'punish', 'prison' etc in the Oxford English and start to make it a painful experience not a holiday at our expense!!!! PS = I know its hard to believe, but I'm not a right wing nutter, just joe public who is fed up with Liberal apologists...........

  • Comment number 58.

    33. At 11:12am on 14 Jul 2010, Mart wrote:

    Prison only works if its main goal is rehabilitation. If its just about locking people away out of society then you create a more dangerous criminal and a society unprepared to deal with the individual when released.

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

    What about the people who should never be released? Those who are 4x more likely to reoffend and are often the more calculating and intelligent? I am talking about sociopaths and psycopaths. Some people cannot be rehabilitated.

  • Comment number 59.

    39. At 11:26am on 14 Jul 2010, Scamandrius wrote:

    19. At 10:53am on 14 Jul 2010, in_the_uk wrote:
    Yes and no.

    There are people who can never be rehabilitated and need to be locked up for life. Psycopaths and sociopaths are only made safe when they are locked up and will often re-offend once released regardless of the consequences. Even a death penalty wont stop them and some even welcome it.

    -----

    Are we talking about criminals here, or the undead?

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

    I dont get it.

    Last I checked the serial murderers, torturers and rapists are criminals. While they are a low percentage of the population there are people who have certain psycopathic traits which, when coupled with certain influences, will create killers who are very difficult to catch and who find it impossible to rehabilitate.

    These people are alive, are criminals and exist all over the world.

  • Comment number 60.

    Of course prison cuts crime; if someone is banged up they cannot commit any crime against the wider public.

    But I am afraid to say the system / society we have now is no where near tough enough, thanks to prison reform groups like the Howard league and other do gooders and of course the financial constraints on the public purse most criminals have a record as long as your arm before they are even sent to prison.

    Also again thanks to the above most criminals serve less than half their sentence before being released, the latest case being Roal Moat, If this guy had been made to serve his full sentence then one man would still be alive and 2 other victims would not have been shot and wounded and hundreds of police officers costing millions of pounds would not have been tied up for days.

    This guy should have still been in prison serving his full sentence the fact that he was released early and others are now dead or wounded is solely down to the early release scheme advocated by the prison reformers, these people should be held accountable for every crime committed by criminals who have been released early.

    Make prisons very harsh, stop all early release schemes, make prisoners serve full sentences, and adopt a three strikes and your banged up rule especially for young offenders, some kids have 50 or 60 plus convictions before any real action is taken against them so they tend to think they are untouchable so a very nasty shock at an early age often does the trick.

    We have tried the reformers and apologist’s liberal ways of dealing with criminals for the past 40 years; they do not work, never have and never will, (I await the reams of statistics that mean nothing that these people always pull out).

    If the answer to some of this crime is some form of concentration style camps on remote islands guarded by the army then the message may get through to these people that society is not prepared to put up with their behaviour any longer.




  • Comment number 61.

    43. At 11:35am on 14 Jul 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:
    "17. At 10:46am on 14 Jul 2010, Caithnessman wrote:
    Nice of Ken to acknowledge that we were prosperous under a Labour goverment"

    One small point - Labour only came into power in 1997 - the rest of the 1990s were Conservative government!


    The first three-ish years of the 1990s were in recession or low GDP growth. Public deficits were incurred until about 1996 by which time economic growth was well underway so Labour did inherit a strong economy and public finances but that was not the case in the early 1990s.

  • Comment number 62.

    A burglar cant burgle, A rapist cant rape, a mugger can't mug, a drug dealer can't ....etc etc when they are in prison. Whereas they can when they are out and that's a fact that Mr Clarke can't deny.

    We already know that £1.8 bn in court fines are unpaid ... so that don't work, and the community service sentences are completely unenforceable if you can't threaten prison. So what is the point of the courts?

    Prison sentencing is the only time the victim of crime ever sees the offender actually punished.

  • Comment number 63.

    Well if the statistics were made available of how many times those who have entered prison more than once...there would be the answer...
    More than 'Once' Nuff Said...

  • Comment number 64.

    Prison needs to be more punishment oriented.
    The definition between right and wrong is clear to all.
    You do the crime etc.....

  • Comment number 65.

    Irrespective of the bang em up commentators the fact is that Crime levels throughout Europe have fallen in those countries with far lower prison numbers per head of the population than in the UK.

    In fact the crime rate fall in Holland is amongst the greatest where no young people under the age of 18 are placed in custody at all.

    I worked for many years as an operational police officer in inner London throughout the Thatcher and Major years and frankly it was never the case that individuals chose not to commit crimes because they were concerned with imprisonment , most criminals didn't anticipate getting caught so the punishment if they did didn't enter as a concern.

    Lower crime levels have been a result of greater prosperity particularly at lower incomes and with the exception of Firearms murders where the increased ownership control has had a significant effect in reducing the number of crimes it isn't the result of more custodial sentences or indeed better policing.

    It is likely that the incoming governments policies and the general economic difficulties will be accompanied by a rise in crime as happened in the early 80's and 90's but locking even more people up ,which is costly and ineffective will not prove any solution.

  • Comment number 66.

    Several commentators on here have taken the ‘well if they’re locked up they’re not committing crime are they…’ approach. I have to say I think that is rather too simplistic way to look at it.

    Leaving aside the fact that, sadly, offenders can commit crime while inside, the point surely is that yes you might be limiting their ability to offend while they’re inside but if they’re no different a person (or even have learnt new criminal skills) once they come out then they will continue to reoffend, therefore prison is really having no impact.

    A criminal justice system should have 3 aims:
    1) Protection – protection for society from the criminal acts of offenders
    2) Retribution – punishment for a wrong doing
    3) Rehabilitation – changing the behaviour of that individual to stop the same pattern repeating

    A system that has just one of those elements missing is doomed to failure. Prison is not necessarily the place to achieve all these aims however and we have to look at a combination of various options, like community sentence, if we want to achieve success and reduce reoffending.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why is the question always ‘do you agree’, as if Mr Clarke was making some sort of statement of opinion? This is an assertion based on an appraisal of the available data – the only question is whether it’s a reasonable inference in the light of that data.

    And it is. The lack of correlation in other countries is pretty telling. Associations between poverty and crime are well documented. The idea that removing criminals from circulation decreases the crime rate doesn’t really stand up to rational analysis – it would imply that there’s some constant population of potential criminals, and the most cursory delve into the social data would suggest this can’t possibly be true – the propensity to commit a crime is a function of all sorts of complex factors.

    You can see why the U-turn on this. Prisons are expensive things to build and maintain, and every ounce of data we have suggest they aren’t as effective at decreasing crime as a myriad other methods. If my need to save public money outweighed my desire to placate the shoutier and less rational elements of society they’d look like a pretty juicy target. Times are lean – we need to look past emotional demagoguery and act according to a detached and objective look at the numbers.

  • Comment number 68.

    1) Sort out the drug abuse situation by mandatory life sentences for importers/producers/growers. If we can reduce drug-related crime, we can decimate both the crime rate and the prison population.

    2) Stop courts dishing out needless IPP sentences like they are some sort of accesssory. It stagnates the prison system & the parole boards are staggering under the workload. There must be many thousands of needless IPP prisoners currently banged up.

    3) Prison does not work, particuarly for the number of social misfits who use the service as a form of gloified hostel, they are in for a rest, not punishment, and there needs to be serious thought given to alternative remedies for this.

    4) Prison should always be a 'last resort', used to keep people who are a genuine risk to society, away from the public at large.

  • Comment number 69.

    AS A POLICE OFFICER I CAN TELL YOU THAT PRISON DOES WORK. I CAN'T COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I'VE GONE TO CHARGE SOMEONE WITH AN OFFENCE AND THEIR REPLY TO CAUTION IS SOMETHING DOWN THE LINES OF "DOESN'T MATTER, YOU DON'T GO TO PRISON FOR ....(CRIME)... ANYWAY"
    YET IF WE GO LOOKING FOR SOMEONE AND THEY KNOW THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THEY ARE GOING DOWN THEY WILL DO EVERYTHING TO GET AWAY.

    SHORT SENTENCES DO NOT WORK, COMMUNITY ORDERS ARE A JOKE TO THESE PEOPLE WHO CAUSE TROUBLE. WE NEED A 3 STRIKES AND YOUR OUT RULE IN THIS COUNTRY WHICH IS STUCK TO WITH OUT EXCEPTION. IF YOU COMMIT CRIME TWICE AND THEN ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME THE THIRD TIME, TOUGH, U HAD UR CHANCE

    -
    I served 20 years in the Met, all operational,all in inner London in some real problem areas.

    I 100% disagree with you, I must have arrested over 4 thousand people over that period and I have never had any individual make a comment along the lines you suggest.
    I have to wonder what operational experience you might really have had.

    Also you don't make a weak argument stronger by SHOUTING!

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh dear Mr Clarke totally at odds with the people who elected him and who he should be representing!What a surprise,I'm not sure he even believes this nonsense.
    I'm sure this is all about trying to save money,nevermind the safety of the public,let's make sure the budget is on track!

  • Comment number 71.

    Logic says it has to, take one criminal off the streets for 3 months, that criminal can't commit any criminal act for 3 months. Multiply that by 80,000 (if that's the prison population) and that's a lot of crime off the streets.

  • Comment number 72.

    7. At 10:14am on 14 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    The VAST majority of those in prison are UNEMPLOYABLE


    This is not true, from a close family member who worked for the Prison service I can tell you that prisoners can largely be divided into two groups. Many are in fact highly intelligent, they tend to be the gang leaders and those who thought they were smarter than the law and used their intelligence to outwit others. The others are less intelligent and very easily led, the majority of these are convicted of more minor crimes.
    We're always being told how much better they do things in other countries and how our prison numbers are higher than elsewhere so let's do what the French do if we want to cut the number of prison places. There after the trial a convicted prisoner is put on a waiting list as they don't have enough prison spaces. When a vacancy is found the criminal is then called to do his time, Guess what, many can't be found or they have committed further offences.

  • Comment number 73.

    If you're in prison, you can't commit crime, unless it's on fellow prisoners etc, therefore having criminals in prison MUST reduse the number of comitted crimes.

    Make our sentences more like the ones in the USA, (longer) and cut back on luxuries like TV's, SKY, Pool and smooker tables, radio's. Maybe then after a few months of utter boredom, they will decide it's better to not commit the crimes in the first place.

    Oh, and stop them taking OU courses or any other educational course whilst locked up, as a way to ease the boredom at our expense. If they want to educate themselves, give team as much help as they need when they get out, but not while inside.

    All the above should save billions £££'s for the prison service, police and courts.

  • Comment number 74.

    "No " The prison real perpose is to educate future criminals, and act as a ware- house for all the unwanted people in our society Alcoholics , Junkies' Illegals and many who have mental probelms .The Best Crooks { The Greedy Bankers, and they world wide friends Big Business }never go to Prison .

  • Comment number 75.

    There is a 100% drop in crime when the criminal is in jail.

  • Comment number 76.

    As some day it may happen that a victim must be found
    He's got a little list... He's got a little list
    Of society offenders who might well be underground
    And who never would be missed...
    Who never would be missed!
    There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs;
    All the people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs;
    All children who are 'up' in dates and floor you with 'em flat;
    All persons who, in shaking hands, shake hands with you
    Like that!
    And all third persons who on spoiling tete-e-tetes insist;
    They'd none of 'em be missed...
    They'd none of 'em be missed!

  • Comment number 77.

    It cuts crime in the sense that someone can't commit a crime when they are in jail.

    However, the important distinction is the fact that it doesn't rehabilitate.

    Prevention is better than cure.

  • Comment number 78.

    there have been quite a few initiatives that lower re-offending rate much better than prison, but the papers then print stories of some examples where they have failed, and they get dropped by politicians afraid of the press.
    Prison does not rehabilitate offenders, if it was introduced now, it would be stopped in no time as a failure. It should be used for people who will not rehabilitate or are a danger to the public. A combination of more effective methods used to rehabilitate with prison as the punishment for failure.

  • Comment number 79.

    "59. At 12:13pm on 14 Jul 2010, in_the_uk wrote:
    39. At 11:26am on 14 Jul 2010, Scamandrius wrote:

    19. At 10:53am on 14 Jul 2010, in_the_uk wrote:
    Yes and no.

    There are people who can never be rehabilitated and need to be locked up for life. Psycopaths and sociopaths are only made safe when they are locked up and will often re-offend once released regardless of the consequences. Even a death penalty wont stop them and some even welcome it.

    -----

    Are we talking about criminals here, or the undead?

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

    I dont get it.

    Last I checked the serial murderers, torturers and rapists are criminals. While they are a low percentage of the population there are people who have certain psycopathic traits which, when coupled with certain influences, will create killers who are very difficult to catch and who find it impossible to rehabilitate.

    These people are alive, are criminals and exist all over the world."

    Scamandrius, I don't think he got your little joke - I thought it was funny anyway!

  • Comment number 80.

    Kenneth Clarke is almost certainly right on this one - and all credit to him for speaking his mind when I'm sure his views will not play well with some in his party. Sure, while a prisoner is incarcerated he/she cannot commit crimes. But we can't lock up every offender forever, and the simple fact of the matter is that when a person has been in prison they are more likely to commit an offence after they are released than they were before they were imprisoned. The reasons for this are fairly obvious; without proper help, many ex-cons find it hard to reintegrate into the outside world, find it hard to get a job, find it hard to resume relationships. All these contribute to a higher chance of reoffending. In prison folk mix with people who are likely to reinforce their criminal proclivities, rather than challenge them.

    And the facts simply speak for themselves. Recidivism is rife. And we have to ask the question - if crime rates are going down (and there is no doubt that they are), why does the prison population continue to rise?

  • Comment number 81.

    They would be more effective if they were more of a deterrent. Prisons should be a lot tougher. Cutting back on prison comforts would probably help the government save some money too.

  • Comment number 82.

    Does imprisonment cut crime? Yes. Why? Because they are banged up in jail, where they cannot hurt decent folk. More jails + more criminals in jail = less crime on the streets.

    Bring in system of 3 strikes and you're out. Whereby you commit any three "ordinary crimes" like burglary, GBH, Drug dealings, etc and you're bang up for good, in prisons which actually are hell holes and not the hotels we have today.

    Time to get Tough on Crime & Tough on the Causes of Crime, so Mr Cameron, time to make good you're promises on law and order in Britain.

  • Comment number 83.

    #60 Your point about Raoul Moat is pointless - had he been kept in prison longer the murders would simply have been later, he would in all probability have still come out wanting revenge.

  • Comment number 84.

    It costs £40,000 to £50,000 on average to maintain someone in prison per year.

    It would be easy to do what many businesses and councils and government departments have done which is to farm out to foreign countrys.

    I am sure they could maintain a prisoner in India or somewhere for £10,000 per year and still make substantial profit, including cost of a plane flight out, and a return bus ticket issued upon release.

    Either that or:-

    STOP prisoners from having access to drugs. UK prisons are a TOTAL failure because heroin and crack are just so easily accessible, what chance does ANY drug addict have at rehabilitation if they are NOT denied access to constant use of drugs. Its PATHETIC.

    Another option would be to build new prisons with recycling centres attatched to them.

    The UKs recycling is MEDIOCRE and pathetic, mainly due to costs and intensive labour needed to sort out rubbish. The jobs provided are mainly VERY LOW PAID, resulting in MASSIVE need for further state/taxpayer subsidy for attrocious LOW wages which are not enough to feed maintain a cat, let alone a family or basic standard of living.

    Prisoners can then get into the habit of working, even shifts over 24 hours, they can earn money to enable payment of compensation to victims, presently most get off scot FREE and again TAXPAYERS pay victims compensation. Prisoners can also contribute to their maintenance/living costs in prison and also be provided with a saving fund so they have money when they leave prison and do not need further state/taxpayer payments.

    Also, if prisoners do not partake, or disrupt, they receive the BASIC MINIMUM of what the law says they are entitled to. NO TVs, NO coffee facilitys in cells, MINIMUM visiting rights and visits behind glass screens if they fail a drugs test even once or do not adhere to rules/behaviour requirement and or any rehabilitation processes.

    I think we basically need to convert prisons into actual prisons.

    Another item- just ALSO ban smoking in ALL prisons, smoking is a luxury, it should NOT be a right, if prisoners dont like it, TOUGH.

    Government wont stop smoking in prisons because they are afraid of disruption. UNTIL government actually take FULL control of prisons then they are basically not fit for purpose.

    THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT can be done to improve crime, but as with much in modern Britain, so much is made impossible by christian based looney left liberalist PC views and policys, which restrict all and sundry.

    A further alternative is to bring back prison ships, there are MASSES of unemployed ships, lying in waste around the world due to recession.

    Convert them to prison ships, then locate them in Artic waters near to some iceburgs and let nature take its course.

    If Clark denys the relevence of prisons in tune to muppet PC liberalists just so he can meet his budget cuts, then the other remaining alternative is for communitys to dish out their OWN justice.

    If the STATE fails to protect society then society has an ENDEMIC NATURAL HUMAN RIGHT to protect itself from whatever and to respond in a way as is fit to maintain the sustainability/security/peace and existance of that community.

    If the British government can send UK military to Falklands or Iraq, or Afganistan, resulting in the killing of many of others, supposidly to protect the rights of this nation, then UK citizens ALSO have that endemic natural right to protect themselves from criminals, who are basically a form of terrorist as they terrorise the nation and create MORE UK VICTIMS than the Argentinians did, or Iraqis did, or Afgans have.






  • Comment number 85.

    Everyone is posting here as if Ken Clarke had said "Get rid of prisons". What he has said is that short sentences don't work.

    No one is arguing that if a rapist is put in prison for 5-10 years they cannot commit another rape (or it is at least very difficult) whilst they are in prison. But in addition to that a 5-10 years sentence gives time for prison services to work on them and help lower the chances of them offending again once released.

    What doesn't work are short (sub 12-24 month) sentences where the prison services don't have the time with them to help mitigate the chances of the offending again and the extra numbers means there are less resources to help turn around the serious criminals serving longer sentences.

    What does work for these lesser crimes are community sentences, been worked with by services catering to turn around people guilty of minor crimes outside of prison.

    These may not salve people need for revenge. But they work and a juvenile convicted of joy riding will be much less likely to re-offend with 2 years of their sentence if they are given proper rehabilitation and not a short 6-12 months in prison out of which they come hardened and with a high probability of re-offending.

    The only alternative to this is a life sentence for all crimes so that people who commit crimes are never free on the streets again to commit a crime and prison just becomes about keeping them locked up, making it much cheaper to run. But this has to be all crimes, not just those you don't like.

  • Comment number 86.

    I agree with Ken Clarke: There is no link between rising levels of imprisonment and falling crime.
    Crime falling in the 1990s, may have been due to economic growth and high employment levels; however, in the last twenty years, there has been a decline in adult mentoring - certainly parents have been overwhelmed. What do you suppose happens when a child faces the jungle of modernity – essentially alone? What do you suppose happens when that child becomes a man?
    Does prison cut crime?
    How is it possible?
    Prison reinforces the criminal’s worldview. Life's a jungle; it’s eat or be eaten. High Prison rates are tied to social failure. If someone breaks the law, society must break him – like an animal.
    No-one can prove cause and effect?
    Have we not had enough proof that a child raised in depleted circumstances has far more chance of becoming anto-social and criminal? Have we not proven that a person – untouched, unaccepted, unloved – will die from such neglect, or worse cause others to die?
    I favor rehabilitation and community sentences because this reaction will rehabilitate the “criminal” into the community, maybe for the first time in his/her life.
    'Inflated prisons' are a characteristic of society’s failure to integrate, to care. We must do things differently.
    The government’s intention to conduct a full assessment of sentencing policy to ensure that it is effective
    - in deterring crime,
    - protecting the public,
    - punishing offenders and
    - cutting re-offending,
    is a good start. I just hope that there are sufficient social workers, psychiatrists, psycholgists and other persons of advanced social skills represented in this "full assessment" because these are required far more than wardens.

  • Comment number 87.

    73. At 12:40pm on 14 Jul 2010, Anthony Rat wrote:

    If you're in prison, you can't commit crime, unless it's on fellow prisoners etc, therefore having criminals in prison MUST reduse the number of comitted crimes.

    Make our sentences more like the ones in the USA, (longer) and cut back on luxuries like TV's, SKY, Pool and smooker tables, radio's. Maybe then after a few months of utter boredom, they will decide it's better to not commit the crimes in the first place.

    Oh, and stop them taking OU courses or any other educational course whilst locked up, as a way to ease the boredom at our expense. If they want to educate themselves, give team as much help as they need when they get out, but not while inside.

    All the above should save billions £££'s for the prison service, police and courts.

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

    To be honest I would be interested in our prisons working a little more like the US. If a criminal commits multiple crimes, the prison time is added together. Here the longest sentence is imposed only.

    I would agree with removing so many luxuries but I would keep the OU options for the inmates because it can have a rehabilitating effect. I would also make the inmates work so the prisons can be more self sustaining. This would make them cheaper on the tax payer and offer up skills to the prisoners.

    Rehab only works on a small portion of the prison population. Some dont need it (imprisoned for something out of character and 1 off) and some can never be rehabilitated. Yet it is important for the section which need it due to environmental factors including education.

    Crime is a difficult topic.

  • Comment number 88.

    Take a criminal out of society and that DOES NOT cause crime to fall?

    I suppose they will be saying that killing off jobs will not cause unemployment to rise!

    This is all about cost cutting nothing more. Crime in this country costs the taxpayer billions so if the politicians can justify that prisons do not work they can cut police, prisons and legal costs and let us all fend for ourselves.

    In fact the government could actually raise revenue on the back of crime especially as VAT is going up as people buy more home and vehicle security systems.

  • Comment number 89.

    Interesting how PROSPERITY is being suggested as a reason for falling crime-rates... We really are being managed by a team of Muppets (sorry Jim Davidson - at least Miss Piggy might have made an appropriate PM?)

  • Comment number 90.

    I would think the reason crime has decreased is precisely because we have locked the criminals up. The more criminals that are behind bars then the less there are running amok in society, stands to reason. What are all the liberal reformists proposing as an alternative when they realise that most criminals cannot, and do not want to be, reformed, and that crime starts to increase as a result of failed reformation?
    People choose to commit crime, it's not mandatory that they do so, so having embarked on their criminal career, which they made a conscious decision to do, what makes the bleeding-heart liberals think they can persuade this element of our society to mend their ways? What do they intend to say to the frail, elderly and vulnerable who are, more often than not, the victims of crime once their reformation schemes backfire?
    Surely the solution is to build new prisons and reintroduce Capital Punishment, not let the prisoners loose.

  • Comment number 91.

    If prisons were done my way, believe me they would reduce crime and reoffending!

  • Comment number 92.

    Does imprisonment cut crime?
    Nope,
    but it does keep a lot of people (including Judges) in very highly paid jobs.

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    If prison was a place to be feared it would prevent re offending, but as its more like a holiday camp with all the comforts that you cant get at home its no deterrent, get rid of the human rights act for prisoners and make it as uncomfortable as possible then we would be on the right track.

    We seem to have things back to front in this country, just take the case of the disgusting person that killed one person and shot two others blinding one, and who is now being portrayed as some kind of victim, they should have had me as the negotiator when he had the gun to his head, I would have encouraged him to do the right thing

  • Comment number 95.

    "The fear of prison used to cut crime but since it's all sky tv and free internet nowadays it's no longer seen as the soap on the rope hilton hell that scallies feared in the past."

    Garbage. What used to stop people comitting crime was having something to lose by getting caught.

    People who have a reasonable standard of living, a job, and a perception that they have a future tend to be law abiding for fear of losing those things.

    If you seriously believe that, whether you spend time in prison or not, you will never amount to anything, never achieve anything and never be anything, what the hell have you got to lose?

  • Comment number 96.

    79. At 12:52pm on 14 Jul 2010, Stevem65 wrote:

    Scamandrius, I don't think he got your little joke - I thought it was funny anyway!

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

    Re-read it after my morning coffee and finally got it. Sorry Scamandrius, good one.

    I need to sleep more

  • Comment number 97.

    badmojo wrote: Oh dear Mr Clarke totally at odds with the people who elected him and who he should be representing!What a surprise,I'm not sure he even believes this nonsense.
    I'm sure this is all about trying to save money,nevermind the safety of the public,let's make sure the budget is on track!

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

    Well you can't expect him to say the truth for falling crime rates, which is Labour got it right, after all, his party had been trying to convince us Labour was lying and crime was going up, now they are in power and have seen the figures for themselves that have to put some kind of spin on it.

  • Comment number 98.

    It depends on the criminal and the crime. It is probably true that in hard times people turn to crime. It is certainly true that there is a hard core of criminals who would never be rehabilitated. It is also true there are some it is too dangerous to let loose.

    I believe there are many individuals currently in prison which benfits neither them or society. For criminals whose action was dictated by one of the many forms of chemical abuse (including alcohol), prison is probably not the best place, they need advanced rehab of some sort.

    Ken is both right and wrong - typical politician then.

  • Comment number 99.

    All the time they are in prison means they can,t commit crime out here.
    Ken Clark is talking rot a lot of criminals are very wealthy but that does not stop them being involved in crime. It was the Tories who closed the Mental Hospitals that decision led to psychopaths being let out of hospital to go to kill innocent people. What is really behind this madcap idea is to close prisons to save money and put the public at risk.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think the problem is our court system. We're too liberal.
    We need tougher sentencing for the real heinous crimes, and a three strike system for repeat offenders.

    Maybe not has tough as the USA 3 strike system, to which you can expect a full life sentence (with chance of parole that means around 30 years) even if the 3rd time was for not paying your parking tickets.

    We should have a system that can be used as a deterrent, that's tough enough to ensure a guarenteed/inconvenient prison time for a minimum of say 5 years (not half of that), increasing in blocks of 5 years on severity.

    Criminals in the UK are got it easy, compared to countries in Asia/Emperates, eye for an eye, hand for a hand etc, they don't care about your human rights, and crime is very low. We've turned prison into a fun, privileged, worry free, full bed and board, educational envirnment where allot of people live more comfortably than in the real world. I'm all for the rehabilitation, but not until they've done the time and are close to getting out (say 3 years into a 5 year stretch - get them ready for re-entry into the community). You go into prison with NOTHING, and then work to earn privileges and continue to work in order to keep them.

 

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