Zacís Questions, Debates and EDMs
The Constant Economy
Where do I Stand?
††††Communications Data Bill
††††NHS / Health
††††Foreign affairs & Defence
††††The Planning System
††††Waste and Plastic Bags
††††Guardian policies Q&A
Where do I Stand? :: Criminal Justice
Tony Blair was right when he promised to be "tough on crime; tough on the causes of crime". The problem was a failure by his government to deliver on either promise. Tackling the causes requires a wide range of policies and action to fix society as a whole. For instance 27% of today’s prisoners spent time in care.
Crime cannot be tackled simply by employing
more police. If that were the case, then there would be a direct correlation in
countries around the world between high police numbers and low crime. We
can all think of countries where police numbers are minimal, and where crime
remains very rare. High crime is a symptom of a society that has lost its way,
and policies need to reflect that.
But we do also need to focus on crime itself. At one end, we need an honest sentencing programme, where 'life' means 'life'. At the other, we need a more decentralized, localized policing system, where local police heads are directly elected. That would ensure that the priorities of local police forces would be in line with the communities they are serving, and not merely a response to the random targets of distant government departments.
The new Government is freeing the police from red tape and bureaucracy so that they are able to spend more time on the street fighting and preventing crime. It is also increasing their accountability to the public, so that the public know that the police are listening to them.
Prisons, meanwhile, exist to protect
society, provide punishment and ultimately rehabilitation. We are failing each
test, and in particular the final one; rehabilitation. If almost 60% of those
serving short sentences have 11 previous cautions/convictions, we are not only
failing those prisoners, we are failing society. A 2008 poll showed that 40% of
people rated crime as the top issue facing this country.
What is extraordinary is that spending on the Criminal Justice system has nearly doubled since 1998, from £17.9bn to £32.5bn today. According to the Centre for Social Justice, a disproportionate amount of the overall budget is spent on offices.