In praise of Kenneth Clarke

That headline woke you up. No, I am not about to change my views on the Euro and European government, nor am I about to agree with Ken on matters constitutional. I just think he is making some sense of our overflowing prisons, of our ineffective criminal justice system, and of the need to achieve more for less in that crucial area.

I have said before that we send too many people to prison. Prison should be mainly for those who represent a threat to our personal security. It is the only place for mass murderers, rapists and perpetrators of serial violence. The public needs to be protected from such people.

It’s record at reforming or deterring lesser offenders is not good. In some cases jail itself can be a school for burglars, an introduction to drugs and confirmation of a life of crime for the inmates. It can make it much more difficult for the person on leaving to go straight and find a decent job. Finding tough penalties beyond the prison gates, and making criminals pay their victims for redress where they have stolen and damaged property might work better. Making prisoners work from or in prison is also a good idea, as long as the prison service does not drive firms out of business through offering cheap labour in the wrong places. Criminals should be made to work harder and pay more back than average taxpayers, not let off working altogether. It was their absence of the work habit that led many of them to a life of crime in the first place.

Instead of building more jails we ned to use the ones we have better, concentrating their places on the serious criminals. We also need to ensure drugs and other bad habits do not pentrate the prison walls. Where necessary prisoners need to be weened off drugs through a strong programme.

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49 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Not so much woke me up as made me feel sick.

    Ever seem your mother's house burgled while she slept? I hope you never experience it but I have. Frankly to have someone suggesting the perpetrator should be tagged or have to clean up rubbish or some such other 'community punishment' is profoundly inadequate.

    Let's not forget parliament has denied her the means of self-defence. You think the criminal scumbag who broke in would have been quite so keen if she might have been armed? But parliament has made sure she is defenceless in the fact of predators, (Police response time ~ about an hour incidentally).

    We are the secone most criminal society in europe, not because we jail too many people, but in fact because we jailer few people, per 1000 crimes than anyone except the Swedes. Thus our chaotic lawlessness. How about three strikes and you never come out. Frankly three seperate, convicted incidents of robbery and it's time to stop the bleeding heart stuff and ensurer we are protected since we aren't allowed to protect ourselves apparently.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Stuart.

      Agreed. My Mother burgled as well whilst living at home alone, at the age of 80 it nearly destroyed her, for weeks/months she was terrified of entering her own house after going out, and terrified of going to sleep at night, in case they came back. It took years before she really moved on. I have also been burgled (while we were out) not a pleasant experience, every time you come home and open the door, you are prepared and ready for a fight. Hence the reason why I always enter before my Wife.

      We had a friend who was responsible for supervising Community Service orders for many years. He eventually gave up, as he was never given any back up by the full time Legal People, when the offenders simply refused to do any work or worse did not even get out of bed. Community service here is a joke.

      Never forget a drive down to Key West from Miami, Passed a convict gang doing community work dressed in stripped trousers and jackets, with a uniformed Sherrif at each end with a shotgun, Sign as you approached them was simple "Convicts at work"

      Agree with the three strikes rule.

      If we do not have enough prison spaces, then build some more.

    • StevenL
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      I was talking to a copper who worked on a burglary team a few months ago. He reckoned you only ever have X number of people in any one area that do it, and when they are all in jail you don't get any burglary.

      So they nick them all then can put their feet up for 18 months until they get let out again. Then the burglary's start again and they have to start all over again with CSI and spending a small fortune on forensics until hopefully they catch them out.

      Experienced criminals are fairly savvy about forensics through.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted October 11, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Yes indeed, I recall a quite stunning interview with the then home secretary John Reid (I think, they shuffled this job a lot), when he declared there are 100,000 persistent offenders and about 80,000 prison places. No-one seemed to 'join the dots' Time for three strikes methinks.

  2. Lottery Balls
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Generally I agree, I suppose Ken has to be right on one or two things. There clearly needs to be a real deterrent element for serious fraud, career burglars, serial muggers and similar. Every time they commit a burglary or mugging offence there is a serious risk of injury or worse.

  3. Lottery Balls
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Why is Iain Duncan Smith attacking landlord for "scamming councils" on Any Questions – I think he means they entered a freely agreed contracts with them at Market rents. Can councils not look after themselves.

    In general councils usually short change landlord by giving them rather less than market rent leaving them with the difficult choice of evicting tenants or accepting the lower rent offered.

    Government also provided them with unfair subsidised competition from Social landlords and Council tax. Then bombard them with mainly silly regulations, energy certificates, HIP packs, safely certificates, deposit protection scheme, planning, building regulations and more and now they have a shortage of reasonably priced finance too.

    Iain If you want property to rent you need landlords, leave them alone please if you think the rent is too high do not rent it or relax planning and regulations and sort out the banks to increase the supply.

    I thought you were on the sensible wing of the party.

  4. Lottery balls
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Off topic but any one still taken in the the great man made global warming exaggeration and the extent of the scam should read Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics resignation letter details below:

    Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara letter of resignation to Curtis G. Callan Jr, Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society.

  5. Antisthenes
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    A good start to cutting crime and it's enormous costs would be to legalise drug taking and prostitution. It is patently obvious that the fight against both is not working. American prohibition lead to the rise of the gangster and was a lesson never learnt, Portugal has legalised and their experience has proved to be a success another lesson no one appears to be heading either.

  6. Iain Gill
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    If I was in charge of prisons I would want to know why it’s easier to get drugs inside than outside, I would put CCTV in place to catch the folk responsible for getting drugs into prisons, and I would not listen to any unions that did not like this
    I think the random tests on prisoners for drugs have been counterproductive as it has led to many moving from Cannabis which stays in the body for a long time to harder drugs which don’t show up on tests after very short times, totally counterproductive, so I would sort this out
    And I would face up to the reality that many prisoners are mentally ill and being in prison is not the best way to deal with ill people
    I would stop any prison room being better equipped than the average student halls of residence room
    I would be much harsher on violent crime, nobody would get bail for beating a copper up if I was in charge
    Needs an outbreak of common sense

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Yep, if we can't keep drugs away from people who are basically locked in cages then what hope is there to keep them away from anyone else?

      Yet another issue that the political class as a whole is simply blanking out

    • SJB
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Iain writes: "I would want to know why it’s easier to get drugs inside than outside, …"

      Iain adds: "I would not listen to any unions that did not like this …"

      (also wanted to refer to sick leave and attitudes of the POA)

  7. waramess
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Let us hope that more people come to see the rationality of such a proposal and let us hope that Ken himself has seen it right through.

    We live in the dark ages so far as our penal system is concerned, and it costs us dearly

  8. Alan Jutson
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I believe that the Legal/Justice system, offences, sentences, prisons and the like need a complete re-think, as it has got out of control like so many other Government controlled/manipulated Organisations.

    The simple fact is that too many Laws have been made by Parliament to try and fine tune offences and sentencing. Too many clever Lawyers are finding too many loopholes, in far too complicated legislation, so in many cases it is Justice (if that is what you wish to call it) if you can afford it. Judges/Magistrates seem now to have their hands tied by Regulation of sentencing, so in many cases, "the time does not fit the crime"

    Clearly a lengthy debate needs to take place to see if a complete rethink of our Justice system is needed.

    As for Drugs in Prison, no of course they should not be in there, but have you actually visited a Prison and spoken to the Officers who try to prevent such. If not I think you would be amazed at the number of ways/methods/means drugs enter a Prison.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I would do what ever it takes to stop drugs entering prisons.

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted October 12, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink

      "Clearly a lengthy debate needs to take place to see if a complete rethink of our Justice system is needed."

      Alan – We agree.
      Often here we have refered to a policy forum document that we helped our colleagues the Essex Boys produce for a local MP in 2008. Sadly not much was taken up at the time but over the past 12 months we have had it's perceptiveness proven on many issues.

      The section on Prison Reform – which came from a proposal by London solicitor Timothy Ford – is below

      • THE ESSEX GIRLS
        Posted October 12, 2010 at 1:28 am | Permalink

        CONTINUED

        "This concept is based on the notion that penalties should have an element of retribution but should be significantly compensatory and should result with as little of a drain on the nation as possible.
        The following is an outline:

        * Prisons should be penal establishments which nevertheless are profit centres to undertake useful commercial activity as well as punish, retrain etc

        * So they should have real commercial activity as their base – manufacturing, service (dirty jobs etc) replicating but competing in the commercial world, paying union rates, incentives and overtime, bonuses etc

        CONTINUED BELOW

        • THE ESSEX GIRLS
          Posted October 12, 2010 at 1:29 am | Permalink

          * The penalty imposed at court would be in three parts:

          1. A retributive element recognising the severity of the crime (because of the other two parts of the sentence this would be significantly shorter than currently)
          2. A compensatory element – a criminal injuries compensation amount fixed by the judge according to scales and some discretion which is payable to the victim
          3. A maintenance element which is a direct contribution by the prisoner towards the cost of keeping him in prison. Added to that could be an element for providing family support etc

          The idea is that there is commercial reality to penal policy, the prisoner would be required to earn his keep and the compensation and would have the incentive to work hard for an earlier release.

          There’s much more to it but that’s the bones. "

  9. john east
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Does non-custodial, community based punishment work? Well, the liberals tell us it does, but I don't believe them. Where is the evidence? I've yet to see any independent research to support their beliefs, and if there was any convincing evidence then it would be a no-brainer, for both the left and the right to embrace community punishments. Who would be so perverse as to ignore a gentle system of punishment which also saves us millions of pounds off the prison budget?

    Saving the aforementioned millions of pounds strikes me as the driver here. A quarter of prison staff were reported to be facing redundancy yesterday, with a potential saving of several billion pounds as we lose up to a quarter of our prisons. A policy driven by cost savings rather than by justice and effectiveness in reducing crime is, in my opinion, deeply cynical.

    Crime levels, true crime levels, not the massaged data denuded by ever growing levels of unrecorded crime as police ignore or reclassify criminal acts, and by ever growing levels of unreported crime as victims give up on the system, will inevitably rise.

  10. Benjamin Barton
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    He's also praised local as a good constituency MP, which I always support, regardless of political colour. <a

  11. Bill
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    If criminals are taken from the streets and put into prison – what is the stats? They commit about 400 crimes before conviction?

    Then it is bound to reduce crime on the streets.

    In prison give them an education – if they desire it

  12. Nick Leaton
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Prison should be mainly for those who represent a threat to our personal security. It is the only place for mass murderers, rapists and perpetrators of serial violence. The public needs to be protected from such people.

    Excuses already for MPs that have committed fraud?

    I would have thought 5 years was a reasonable starter.

    What about all those who signed expenses to say that their expenses were "wholly and necessary" for their work as MPs. Fraud or attempted fraud?

    Certainly. However, since they went to the top of the parties they get away with giving the cash back.

    What about serial burglars? Major harm to society, but not violent. No jail for them.

    What about the big fraud of government? Hiding the extent of the debts by saying that pension contributions are income and that future pension payments are spending? That enables government to default on its promises.

    Jail for those who've run up the debts?

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    You solution would be credible if we had at least two types of prison, one for the really hard nuts and one for those capable of being rehabilitated.

    Let us deal with burglary. The odds against being caught are quite long, say 10 to 1. So if a burglar is caught and convicted, the amount of the restitution to the victim should be TEN TIMES the value of the goods stolen. That really would be a deterrent.

  14. Brigham
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    We do need to build more prisons, but different ones. Each cell should have a bed, washbasin. and WC. When the sentence starts the prisoner should be put in the cell until his release. Food for the day should be placed within reach of the prisoner once daily. No telly, radio, books, or visitors. Because this is quite draconian, initially sentences could be quite short. I think this would be quite a deterrent. Of course all the bleeding heart liberals will be throwing up their hands in horror. Tough!

    • SJB
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Not if you are happy to sponsor just one place, Brigham. Each new prison place costs £100k, and keeping one person in jail is >£38k per annum.

    • Bob
      Posted October 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      I'd vote for that.
      No time off for good behaviour.
      Extra time for bad behaviour.

      I believe that would work,

  15. jbzoom
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    If drugs were legal, but not available in prison, prison would be much more of a deterrent!

  16. APL
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    JR: "In praise of Kenneth Clarke"

    Kenneth Clarke is not so much a stopped watch, that has the merit of telling the correct time twice a day, he is a watch that is running slow. It might be right once a week or once a month depending on its degree of retardedness.

    In actual fact such an instrument is, like Clarke a liability.

    JR: "It is the only place for mass murderers, rapists and perpetrators of serial violence. The public needs to be protected from such people."

    And if that was what Clarke said then even I might grudgingly think this may be one of those rare occasions when he might be correct. The first time I heard him on R4 it is not what he said.

    By the way, were you using hyperbole? 'Mass murderers' how many do we have in the UK? Is there another degree of murder now, such that you have to have killed more than one person before the police and the law courts think it worth their valuable time to investigate and prosecute?

    Here is a suggestion, abolish the probation service, and keep a prisoner in gaol for the full term of his or her sentence. The probation service bangs its own drum and of course likes to seem compassionate and humane, let people out of prison early and the probation service will look after them.

    Except it doesn't work. How many people are repeat offenders, having gone through a partial sentence, been released on probation, the ineffective probation service has lost that person, and then a short while after another crime is committed.

    If you want to make savings and reduce the prison population do three things.

    1. Reestablish brittish border controls.
    2. Expel all foreign prisoners at the end of their sentence. Make sure using 1. they cannot re-enter the country.
    3. Abolish the probation service. Redirect the money to the prison service.

  17. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I think we will need a raft of measures to sort out the best solutions for managing crime.

    Decriminalisation or legalization of 'victimless crimes' might work.

    Getting drugs out of prisons will be a tough job – but if you set up 'A Block' as drug free and the inmates receive some benefit for staying clean, that would help ('B block' would be for the drug takers who would receive no extra benefits).

    Although it would be expensive resettling released prisoners away from their old friends/community might well help reduce repeat offending.

    Prisoners working for a reasonable wage would help them regain self respect and give them a helping hand on starting life outside.

    Automatically arrest and detain drunks in special 'drunk tanks' for the weekend might improve behaviour in the city centres and avoid some escalation into violent offences.

    Use model prisoners, unemployed people, charities, volunteers, to educate and counsel prisoners who are prepared to learn and change.

    Be prepared to 'exile' incorrigible violent offenders for the rest of their lives to some well guarded island.

    Just a few ideas; I'm sure that there are many more.

    A big programme but rather than try and implement it all at once, make a start in a few locations, learn the lessons, and gradually spread it throughout the country.

  18. forthurst
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    First of all we need to abolish certain offences from the statute book. Frst that should go would be thought crime; it is utterly disgusting that prosecutors purport to know what a person's motivation is based on accusation alone and attentuate the penalty accordingly. People should be prosecuted for their actions alone and should never be prosecuted for anything they write or say unless there is clear incitement to commit a crime.

    It is also absurd that people who indulge in self-abuse with potentially lethal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol are taxed whereas other possibly less lethal forms of self-abuse are criminalised and can result in incarceration.

    Deportation should be automatic for any such (recent immigrant) convicted of an indictable offence. We have to put up with our criminals, I see no reason why we should put up others', (words left out)

  19. Richard
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with you on this.
    The focus must be to reduce reoffending. Our current aim is biased simply towards detection and punishment and whilst this might satisfy a public desire for "justice" it fails to cure the problem .
    Ive always suspected that the legal establishment feels that crime is inevitable and this is where the weakness starts.
    We should challenge this mindset and start by establishing a zero target for crime and set about agressively eliminating it.

    Much petty crime is due to drug, gambling and alcohol addictions and a very small number of people, often young men under 30 years of age, are responsible for a huge number of offences and we should be targeting and focussing our efforts on these for intensive treatment.

    It would require some radical changes to our system to say to repeat offenders we will detain you, retrain you and educate you and turn your life around and not just give you another period in Prison and then let you out to carry on again and again.
    It would be cost effective, long term, in my opinion and not a soft option for either the offender nor the Government.

  20. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I'll go along with that.

    I would add prison may be the only place for repeat offenders for whom non-custodial sentences have not worked.

    As to drugs in prison, I see this as a measure of government (all governments) credibility regarding their pronouncements about the illegal use of drugs, with which I agree. But if prisons are awash with drugs, as we often hear reported, then I can not help but doubt the sincerity.

  21. Javelin
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Most prisoners have psychological issues. Inward anger becomes depression.

    Alot prisoners are failed crooks. The successful crooks are on the outside.

    The way to lead prisoners is to persuade them they need to choose a different path.

    So for some crooked careers are wrong – others just have fierce tempers.

    "You are a Failed Crook" should be writ large above every cell door.

  22. Rose
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    In principle he may be right, though Mr Fairney is right too to remind us burglary is not a petty offence. But let us not make the mistake made in the seventies with mental hospitals when it was decided to treat people instead in the community. If that had indeed been done, it would have been far, far more expensive. In practice, the former patients ended up on the streets and thence in prison.

    • Mark
      Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      You are right to draw attention to the plight of the mentally challenged. It would seem appropriate to allocate some of the ring fenced health budget to them as a way round funding difficulties. They really do need some sheltered housing, yet prison is not what they deserve. At least there is now to be some effort for ex service personnel who suffer mental problems from their shocking experiences.

  23. Fed up prosecutor.
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    More wishy washy liberal clap trap. As prisons are currently run, they are rubbish at rehabiltating prisoners. They are 100% successful at preventing any jailed prisoners from committing further crimes against the general public. I am sick to the back teeth of the chattering classes wanting to recategorise crimes that they don't have to suffer from. The fact is punishments have not fitted the crime for the past 25 years or so and its getting worse. Judges hands are tied, as are the police "service" (sic). The human rights act has been a disaster for justice in this country, as have all the bleeding heart liberals (of whom I believe Ken Clarke is a prime example) who have put criminals rights and welfare ahead of law abiding citizens. I have first hand experience of helping people deal with the aftermath of "low level crime" and it's ongoing devastating effect upon them. There are some very bad people out there who want to do us harm and they don't want to be rehabilitated. Is it a government's first duty to protect its citizens or not?

  24. electro-kevin
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    With in-cell TVs and Playstations available, as well as fully equipped gyms and a choice from a menu of good food available each day it is no wonder that 'prison doesn't work'.

    And why do drugs penetrate prison walls ? Because they are allowed to.

    The ruling establishment doesn't believe in punishment or that drug abuse is a crime.

    And when your car or fence has been kicked in for the umpteenth time and the ASBO system has failed why shouldn't the perpetrator go to prison ? If only to give the innocent some relief and respite to recover sanity.

  25. Bazman
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Ken Clarke is a bit disingenuous and Redwood maybe gullible. All a bit cheap at least . If you let every offender in Britain out prison, apart form the likes of The Yorkshire Ripper, Ian Huntley or other real psychopaths. Little would change in the crime figures.

    • electro-kevin
      Posted October 11, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I fail to see how little would change in the crime figures if more perpetrators were at large with more knowing that the ultimate sanction had been withdrawn.

      Having your car window smashed and your radio nicked while you're out earning a wage is not 'petty' crime. Especially when one weighs in the huge inconvenience of having it repaired, the sense of personal violation and the very real loss of £250 to pay the excess.

      I drove around for two years with a hole in my dashboard where there should have been a radio that I'd paid good money for. The worst of it was that they had been through my CD collection and left the lot – as though to say that my taste in music was crap.

      The thief will get a tenner for the radio and have to do this sort of thing each time he needs his drug hit. So how does legalising drugs (previously suggested) make his cash raising situation better – oh I get it. The hard pressed NHS is going to have to provide them 'free'.

  26. Ron Forrest
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Of course prisoners should be given training when in prison to equipt them for employment when they leave, but they should also be punished. A couiple of hours a day of the treadmill would do them good and help 'save the planet'.
    Ron Forrest

  27. Cary
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    One of the worst pieces JR has ever written. If too many are in prison then say which ones should be be let out – this is something those that call for the prison population to be reduced never address.

    Keeping criminals in prison may reduce overall Government expenditure; you need fewer police officers as there are fewer criminals on the outside (hence the apparent paradox of Michael Howard's time as home secretary when crime fell as police numbers were slightly reduced but the prison population increased). What you cannot do is cut both police numbers and the prison population and hold down crime levels.

    Yes there are lots of drugs in prison, mostly smuggled in by visitors. Stop physical contact between prisoners and visitors and most of the drugs would not get in (though the outcry from the bleeding heart liberal brigade would be defeaning).

  28. daukett
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    This article really interested me. Its has to be the first time I have agreed with a tory on criminal justice policy.
    KC, as minister of justice, has shown some bravery saying what everyone in the field knows to be the truth. As a former police officer I can say with soem confidence that prison does not work for the vast majority of offenders.
    Of course this has really rattled the middle england hang and flog em brigade and so it should. They are wrong. Our instinct is retaliation, vegeance and punishment but what works is something very different.
    The toughest form of justice is where the offender repairs the harm caused to the victim – restorative justice – and you don't need a prison to make it work.
    RJ is process with cross party support – until they get into power of course and become fearful of the backlash from middle england daily mail readers.
    Congratulations Mr Redwood for putting it out there – we really need this debate!

    • electro-kevin
      Posted October 16, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      'Middle England hang 'em and flog 'em brigade'

      Are you sure it's just them complaining, Daukett ? I don't think so.

      We don't get 'restorative justice' either, this despite decades of community service programmes. Where are the results ? If this were so effective then our towns and cities would be pristine and offenders reformed. Neither has happened.

      The fact is that the ruling middle class establishment is packed with progressives who see – in their superior way – equivalence between the hard working and law-abiding classes and the criminal sub-class. Criminals are victims of those who complain about them in this upturned society.

  29. Martin
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    One only has to look at the USA to see where prison sentencing inflation and endless media fear stories leads. Over 2 million in jail, a population some so scared that they need guns. I can't remember the death figure for non criminal gun incidents each year in the USA but it is high. (16 000 suicides in 2004)

  30. Robert George
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    The desire for revenge is the dominant thread which runs through many of these posts, and it does not work. I would contend the following:-

    1. There are no more than 5% of prisoners who need to be locked up and the keys thrown away.

    2. The case for shorter, much shorter sentences for the remainder is overwhelming.

    3. There is a case for making prisons more spartan…not more cruel.

    4. The mentally ill need to be got out of the system.

    5. Drugs policy has to change. The use of drugs should not be a crime. The sale of them should be. The Government needs to take over the drug supply and manage it as an illness of dependency.

    Robert Peel discovered 190 years ago that it is the certainty of punishment that deters the criminal, not the severity. Thus we need to get more coppers on the beat with the power and support of the community to hassle and harass the wrongdoers over small crimes.

    The alternative to Clarke's approach is that we end up like the USA which has 2.1 million citizens in jail. That is unthinkable in any civilised society.

    • Rose
      Posted October 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes to 3,4, and paras on revenge and Peel.

      The US showed us years ago where anti-elitist education + lowest common denominator media and catering + mass immigration leads: to alienation and disintegration, to degradation of the common environment, and to high rates of crime. That is why they have millions in prison. A phrase was coined for the predicament they found themselves in: "private affluence and public squalor."

  31. Rose
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    If you want a well-educated, well-behaved, and well-cared for country – like a civilized Nordic nation, or a Western Isle, or Japan – you have to keep it comparatively exclusive and stable, and work at it. We didn't.

    The English civilization to which so many people have been attracted wasn't automatic. It took a thousand years or so to develop, and nearly broke down in the 18th and 19th century cities. The idealistic Victorians worked hard to mend it but it has not been maintained. Urban England has become a mini-US, with all the outward signs of alienation and disintegration – litter, graffiti, vandalism, drugs, homelessness, 24 hour cities, oppressive traffic, and fatherless families. High rates of crime and numbers in prison are only a part of the Americanised picture. And we have added mass drinking.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted October 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Rose
      Please someone else understands that it takes years of development to eventually become a civilised Country.
      Shame Blair and others did not follow this logic and Historic fact over Iraq and Afghanistan.
      It seems in so many ways we (in this Country) are now going backwards towards chaos ourselves.

      • rose
        Posted October 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Another sad fact is that criminals prefer to be based in countries where the police don't regularly beat them up and extort money from them. Ours is one of the minority of countries where that doesn't happen, so a lot more criminals are going to come here now the borders have gone. Nothing much will happen to them unless there is evidence which will stand up in a court of law. And even then it is not that frightening a prospect compared to practising crime in most countries abroad. So although we don't make life here so attractive for entrepreneurs as we did, we still do for criminals.

  32. Dave Clemo
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    1. restore the death penalty for murder and terrorist offences
    2. Death penalty for dealing hard drugs (as in Singapore)
    3. No remission, but shorter sentences (ie one year means one year)
    4. Persistent shoplifters and petty vandals to be punished by being caged in public areas like town centres on Saturday afternoons.

    I've been visiting prisoners for years and they agree with me.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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