Social and political commentary from a conservative perspective

Lord Ramsbotham on prisons

Wise words from Lord Ramsbotham on our increasingly shambolic criminal justice system. Writing in the Independent, the former chief inspector of prisons makes it clear that much of the blame for the current state of affairs can be placed on the Government. He also highlights a shocking statistic: in the past five years, the rate of reoffending among adult males has increased from 55 per cent to 67 per cent.

He gives the following reasons for the current state of affairs:

  • increase in crime legislation resulting in more prison sentences;
  • failure to resource prisons to ensure that they provide work, education and training;
  • low morale amongst the workforce;
  • poorly drafted legislation;
  • refusal of the Government to listen to experts;
  • overworked probation services.

His suggestions?

  • regional, as opposed to national, management of prisons;
  • appointment in each prison of officers who will be responsible and accountable for each type of prisoner;
  • redefinition of the role of Area Criminal Justice Boards to include a say in job training;
  • local authorities to establish adult male offender teams to deal with low-level offenders, thereby leaving the more serious convicts to the probation officers.

I’m not sure I agree with all his suggestions, but they are at least a starting point for meaningful debate. I would add a further suggestion: build more prisons.

For more on prisons, check out the excellent PrisonWorks initiative.

  • November 2017
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