Friday, January 26, 2007

Home Office in crisis again. Can it get any worse?

Well, we have had all sorts of bad news about the Home Office in recent days. For example they are now in a panic over prison places, or rather the lack of them, (see here) that has now led to a man convicted of downloading child pornography getting off with out a prison sentence (See the BBC's article here). It seems that sentences are being set by the number of prison places.

A man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager has been released on bail. The judge said that last week he would have sent him straight to jail.

We now have the Rod Morgan, head of the Youth Justice Board resigning because the system is being "swamped" by minor offenders who would not have ended up in prison in the first place before 1997.

Why are we in this situation? Well, in short Labour have been talking very tough on crime, and sentencing but have not provided the prison places to back up the rhetoric. Whether or not the policy is a good one is another matter. If you want to send more people to prison for longer you do need more places.

Government has had advance notice of this looming crisis for years. However there is also a real problem in our system is that there is no time and space to rehabilitate people, particularly young offenders. We can't afford to have 10 year olds locked up in prison and not rehabilitated moving on to a life of crime. This is just very wrong and wasteful of future tax payers money.

We also have worsening crime figures as well. You are apparently more likely to be a victim of crime this year than last, the first rise since 1995. (See the BBC's article here)

Can it get worse? I think it can, we will have to wait and see.

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