Saturday, 19 May 2007

Another Embarrassing Report for the Government

Tony Blair, John Reid and Lord Falconer have claimed that too many criminals are being jailed.

Lord Falconer, the newly-created Justice Secretary, announced this month that tens of thousands of burglars and other thieves would receive community punishments instead of jail sentences. The Prime Minister signalled that there should be greater emphasis on rehabilitating offenders, tougher community sentences and crime prevention in March, and Home Secretary Mr Reid caused outrage in January by urging the courts to use jail sentences only as a last resort. Due to this paedophiles, muggers, burglars and heroin dealers walked free from court.

However, a Home Office report has concluded that stiffer prison sentences deter crime. This contradicts Labour plans to hand out softer punishments

Key Points in the Report

"Custodial sentences of at least a year are most effective in reducing re offending."

Figures showed that 70 per cent of convicts jailed for under 12 months re-offended within two years, compared with 49 per cent of those sentenced to between one and four years and 36 per cent of those serving at least four years

Men and women released from prison within a year had on average 13 previous convictions – suggesting shorter jail sentences were failing as a deterrent.

Prisoners released from longer sentences were less likely to re- offend because they were older, had time to be rehabilitated and had been convicted of more serious "one-off" offences.

Last night, the Conservatives blamed the "abysmal" situation on Labour’s failure to build enough prison places. Philip Davies, the Tory MP who uncovered the report, said: "The Government are at sixes and sevens. Because the Chancellor has consistently refused to invest in building more prisons, that has resulted in their being full. The Government now have to pretend that prison does not work after all, and that it is tougher not to send people to prison and to give them so-called tough community sentences."

A Home Office spokesman said the relationship between prison sentences and re-offending rates was "quite complex".

He said the report did not contradict the Government’s view. Is the Home Office spokesman reading the same report?

This comment is clearly the work of Gordon Brown and his "political spin" team. Rather than accept responsibility for the lack of investment in building prisons, Labour is attempting to claim that tough community sentences are best and prison should be a last resort despite the fact that their own Home Office Report contradicts them.

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