On Friday, Peter Hoskin lamented "the vertiginous increase in our prison population since 1990". He's right about the figures - we have indeed gone from 44,795 then to 86,634 now. He's wrong to think this is a bad thing.
Below is Hoskin's graph - with recorded crime in England and Wales superimposed on top of it. You don't have to be a statistician to see a potential connection.
Yes, it's simple and yes it's tediously intuitive and commonsensical ... but having more criminals in prison rather than outside prison really does cut crime. That is the overriding lesson from this country's recent history and others', such as the once high-crime United States.
It's fine to be sceptical of how governments and police alike can massage crime figures. But it's absurd to believe that, all of a sudden, this was ramped up massively in the mid-1990s as if no one has thought of it before. Just as greed is a constant, and therefore can't explain the financial crisis hitting in 2007, police and government have always presented crime figures in the best light, and this therefore can't explain their dramatic downward trend as soon as the prison population started to rocket.