Thursday 9 February 2006
Reform response to the Home Office strategic plan: A Five Year Plan for Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending
§ The Home Office is right to give renewed focus to re-offending: 58 per cent of adults convicted of a crime in 2002 were reconvicted within two years, and over 70 per cent of young offenders.
§ Echoing other areas of its public sector reform programme, the five-year plan proposes that different organisations, including the private and voluntary sectors, should provide prison and probation services. The principle is right: “contestability” in these areas has improved services here and overseas. But the ambition for reform appears very limited: the plan states that the public sector will “often” provide services and will remain “vital”, implying that there will not be a level playing field. The limit on reform will make it less likely that the private sector will invest. It will also prevent the National Offender Management Service becoming a “commissioner” rather than a “provider”.
§ The aim to reduce prison numbers – a clear shift in policy from recent years – is inconsistent with the Home Office’s own prison projections. It also puts at risk the Government’s crime reduction targets given the contribution of increased prison numbers in reducing crime.
§ Community sentences certainly need improvement: only two of the four key types have a better re-offending rate than prison. There should not be misplaced confidence in them. Prison based rehabilitation schemes have a much stronger record.
§ Given this evidence, the better way is to build more prisons as required while improving custodial regimes and continuing to try to develop more effective non-custodial and semi-custodial punishments.
Comment: Questions ought to be asked as to:
- what happened to New Labour’s election mantra of 1997 ‘Tackling Crime & causes of crime’?
- why is that since 1997 anti-social behaviour has been on the unmanageable increase?
- why, therefore, this Government (given to tackling crime and causes of crime) has been instrumental in legalising 24/7 alcohol consumption in this country?
- Is it because it provides for a win-win-win-win situation which eternally keeps alcohol dispensing businesses in business, including its extra staff with jobs, police in business dealing with anti-social behaviour resulting from the 24/7 availability of alcohol, A&E (Accidents & emergency service) of the National Health Service being kept in full employment directly as the result of hooliganism, the Local authorities’ Mobile Patrol being kept on their paces due to ASB on residential estates, Local Authorities Housing Departments being kept over-stretched due to vandalism, ASB, Noise nuisance, domestic violence etc requiring more resources or sick time off to recover from the stress of it all?
- Whether this has been a conniving scheme of the New Labour to reduce unemployment by creating non-jobs addressing the crime and the causes of crime on behalf of the Government?
- why only Camden Council’s ASB Group Manager received an MBE in The Queen’s New Year list in 2006? Are other local authorities not working equally hard?