This morning we learn that the government has hit a target it set for itself, by sending back some prisoners to their home countries. One cheer for that. The Conservatives have shown that many were let out early, and a lot are still not returned to their homelands. We also need to remember that the government is only talking about visitors from outside the EU, ignoring all the crimes committed by contintentals who come here. It’s a pity they threw away proper contorl of our borders with the EU that previous governemnts had carefully preserved.
I think UK taxpayers have plenty to complain about when we learn how many of the people our Borders agency lets in abuse our hospitality by committing serious crimes. Do they do no checks on criminal records of people before letting them in? Surely they don’t suddenly become drug dealers, murderers or sex offenders when they arrive here, having led blameless lives before? Why can’t we have arrangements with overseas governemnts to send them back for punishment in their own country? Can we at least make sure that anyone committing a serious crime here is sent home and never allowed back again?
The government is being criticised for not having enough jail places. It could help itself by being a lot tougher on how many criminally inclined foreigners it lets in and then puts in prison, and by reaching agreement with overseas countries concerning their punishment.
It also raises the more general question of does prison work? Most people want two things from prisons. The first is to lock up criminals who represent a serious threat to the rest of us for long periods of time to protect us. The second is the try to ensure that prisoners let out of prison are less likely rather than more likely to reoffend.
I am not sure putting so many people inside for theft and other financial crimes makes a lot of sense. If people are too greedy, let the punishment fit the crime. Why not make them stay at work or make them get a job, so they pay full reparaitons to the victims of their crime and pay full charges for the police and court work involved in finding them and bringing them to justice? I have never understood why, if someone is burgled, they not only lose their possessions to the burglar but then have to help pay to keep him in idleness in what can be a seminary for crime called prison. That only makes sense if the burglar refuses to co-operate with any sensible programme of rehabilitation, and refuses to work and pay recompense.