The Conservative Party is the party of law and order, or it is nothing at all. The public have always known that Conservatives will take their protection most seriously, and that belief should never be allowed to wither.
But we are no longer simply the Party of hanging and flogging. The world has moved on. Today’s Conservatives must find the right balance between punishment and rehabilitation. Punishment, because crime should have consequences. Rehabilitation. because reoffending destroys lives - and the cycle of people rotating round and round our criminal justice system costs a fortune and leaves far too many victims.
Whether you are the hardest hardliner on crime, or the woolliest liberal, we all have an interest in effective rehabilitation. That’s why we are pressing ahead with the biggest reforms to our probation system in a generation, and why we are looking at new ways of detaining teenage criminals to improve their skills and education.
But we need to act in our prisons too. In too many ways, the regime in our prisons has become too lax. Rewards are given for simply being passive, not for self-improvement. Perks are available that many on the outside cannot afford – or which are wholly inappropriate in a prison. All of that has to change.