A tough job at Justice

 
Chris Grayling

If the Conservative right see the appointment of Chris Grayling as a signal that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is going to re-adopt the slogan "prison works" then I think they may be disappointed.

The MoJ is in the middle of a programme of severe budget cuts and central to achieving the 26% savings is ensuring the prison population of England and Wales can be stabilised and, ultimately, brought down.

At the beginning of this year the population increased by 1,000 in a relatively short period which prompted a warning from the then permanent secretary at the ministry that unless demand eased, they would have to revisit their cuts plan. An increasing prison population was described as one of the "biggest risks the department faced".

So the new secretary of state will be told in no uncertain terms by his officials that the name of the game is to keep prison numbers down - not look to lock more people up.

Mr Grayling has very little room for manoeuvre: cuts of £350m to legal aid have been hugely controversial; slashing court and probation budgets still further simply to accommodate the cost of greater incarceration would be extremely unpopular, especially with the prospect of yet more public sector cuts to be announced.

New ministers Chris Grayling, Ken Clarke, Jeremy Hunt, and Theresa Villiers on their new jobs

Mr Grayling has said he is a supporter of what's called the "rehabilitation revolution" - looking at ways to prevent reoffending with "more effective" sentencing policies, particularly the use of restorative justice and robust community sentences delivered by the private and voluntary sectors on a payments by results basis.

That idea for a focus on reducing reoffending was a Conservative manifesto promise, it appeared in the coalition agreement and is still the number one priority for the department in its three year business plan published four months ago.

So my expectation is that Mr Grayling will perhaps change the tone of the ministry, but his options for a radical change in direction are extremely limited.

You may recall that Ken Clarke had originally proposed increasing the discount for offenders who pleaded guilty. The idea went down badly with the Conservative right in particular and the proposal was eventually dropped. That one change disrupted plans to reduce the prison population and save large sums, forcing the ministry to revisit cuts to other parts of the justice system.

As much as Mr Grayling's instinct might be to toughen sentencing rather than relax it, the plain fact is that punishment costs money. A lot of money. And money is something in diminishing supply at the MoJ.

 
Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 35.

    This is a little provacative.

    There are two ways of treating bad behaviour; you can punish or you can persuade. At the same time really harsh sentences persuade potential criminals not to do wrong and that would reduce the prison population as it did before soft sentencing.

    Persuading includes telling them what would happen if they re-offend.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 34.

    Wellingborough prison will be closed by xmas with the loss of 588 places.Peter Bone put up a good case to keep the prison open today at a hearing held at westminster hall.It is believed that with in two years G4S or Serco will take over the site on a PFI contract to run it and so charge the tax payer even more money over 25 years,
    RIP Wellingborough Prison.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 33.

    How tedious it is reading all the left liberal drivel about nasty Tories. Most of the country would like a far, far tougher penal system than the Tories would dare to bring in. Bring back Victorian standards I say, prison should be cold, hard, and hungry, and prisoners should fear the wardens not the other way around!!!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 32.

    Whoever does the job will never be bale to do what really needs to be done becausse a majority of the British public are too thick to see that preventing reoffending is more important that "getting your own back".....

    ......prison does not work for the majority of offenders, only for those who cannot be rehabilitated who need to be kept safely locked away.....

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 31.

    Prison only seems to work for those making big bucks out of running them. Why else would G4S be so keen on them? As for the prisoners, most have social ills rather than criminal ones. Prisons are only suitable for the recidivist crook and violent thug. Prisons don't work for debtors, or the mentally ill, or the inept. I'm hoping Chris Grayling will sort the "prison business" out once and for all.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Surely of significant relevance is why does it cost so much to imprison an offender? I believe too many people are locked up unnecessarily. However, there will always be those that must be locked up for the public safety and that should not be in a cosy institution. Maybe not reintroduce chain gangs but they should all be made to contribute to society even from behind bars..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    28.Mark_from_Manchester - so you answered my original comment, which was clearly about Police Constabularies, not central bodies, with a complete & utter red herring then......you are obsfucating not engaging in anything remotely constructive and your point has no merit in backing upo your argument as it does not relate to Pilice forces....

  • rate this
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    Comment number 28.

    23. Little_Old_Me

    Sorry to dispel your revisionist propaganda with the truth but it was at the National Policing Improvement Agency. It therefore has nothing at all to do with front line policing and the marketing manager concerned told me of the cutbacks.

    You, like the Left just seem desperate to hide how inept they have been with our money and how little of it goes on front line services.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 27.

    The Nasty Party just gets Nastier. Remember Grayling's remarks about Gay couples and their rights?
    Stands him good stead then to deliver well balanced Policies and Justice then?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 26.

    if he thinks he can pull it off he will have chain gangs working throughout the country-he would love to have the electric chair-on his fact finding tours of uncle sam you can see the envy in his body language-rightwing and old hat-nothing new to offer only a return to victorian values-the brits are not yanks-try to grasp this fact...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    With Ken you had a policy based on facts not rhetoric,Grayling has never been big on facts judging by some of His more ludicrous assertions regarding the unemployed.
    So we can expect a policy founded on the principals of what sounds good in Tory la la land not what might actually have some effect on reducing recidivism.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 24.

    Thanks to labour politicising the police force and the continuation by the tories with commisioners thier integrity and modus operandi has been flawed.
    Just look at the sex abuse case in Rochdale which could have been dealt with ages ago but for PC adherence. Standards are low in the force but not as low as their political masters.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    16.Mark_from_Manchester - "....I know a police body that had 30 people in its MARKETING dept...."


    I'd be interested to see the evidence for that.......sounds like a gross misrepresentation of the truth to me - here's betting those jobs included things like people answering non emergency calls that warrented Officers now have to handle, keeping them off the streets......

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    Capital punishment doesn't work; I find it questionable whether any sort of "punishment" works, or simply, deeply instills in the criminal the idea that it's him/her against society. I believe only persons who belong in jail are those that are sociopaths, psychopaths or dangerous offenders. By my reckoning more than 1/2 of prisoners do not belong in prison.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 21.

    @15.Nemesis of Neo Nasties
    What do the police do for justice? Oh yes, arrest and charge someone for defending their home, man speed cameras on motorways, beat protesters to death, 'kettle' and beat up any dissenters, arrest old ladies for not paying council tax,
    The best way to get any sort of justice in the UK would be to sack the entire police force.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    We need to sort out 'justice' in this country. It should STOP meaning protection of the rich from the poor, or allowing the police to beat up who they like and spy on us all.
    For people who murder then life should mean until they drop dead.
    For those who maim and injure (especially the young) life should be the normal
    For those who don't pay taxes or demonstrate jail should not be used

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    The closure of Wellingborough Prison is to be debated by peter Bone in Westminster hall today.Kenneth Clarke decided to close the prison after three years of market testing and massive savings there.
    With the closure the goverment say this decition will good value for money ,With the closure many staff will be moved over numbers to other Prisons,so there is little if any saving in this closure.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    Get them chained up in a gang, out in the fields growing their own food. instead of playing pool T.V. and the Gym building up muscle to more effectively beat half to death the next old lady they target.
    Of course the left will wring their hands and bleat how these Neanderthals are just misunderstood. I say Chain Gang them and Hard Labour ..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    "We can easily spend less AND improve police services"

    Ahh yes, the Tory "broken calculator" argument, where you spend less and get more, allegedly. That is hardly likely to happen when police services are being outsourced to private companies whose only interest is PROFIT. We will pay more in taxes, for a drastically reduced service.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 16.

    11.Little_Old_Me
    15.Nemesis of Neo Nasties

    I know a police body that had 30 people in its MARKETING dept.

    Now they have 4.

    How exactly does that effect catching criminals?

    Sorry - you are just desparate to hide the gross waste of money that Labour and the unions colluded to squander.

    We can easily spend less AND improve police services.

 

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