Rhys Burriss is a Barrister and a former Clerk to Justices, a former Senior Magistrate of Montserrat and has most recently been Senior Legal Advisor in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He is a student of International Law at Oxford and an aspirant Applicant for Admission to the Approved List of Conservative Candidates. Here he responds to Professor Ian Loader's recent Platform on penal policy.
Any article by an Oxford Professor has to be taken seriously and any arguments expounded therein addressed. Unfortunately Professor Loader's article is composed more of a series of well-meaning assertions than arguments deriving from real world experience. This piece is intended as a necessary corrective, with positive suggestions for Penal Reform which would really make a difference for the better.
The many (largely state-funded) organizations who have so devastated criminal justice policy in this country over the last thirty years do not live in the real world of recognizing how lenient sentencing policy actually is in England and Wales, and how much responsibility such leniency has (together with other factors such as the duty-free benefit and public housing system) for our appallingly high levels of crime, particularly violent crime - which I believe are possibly the highest in Europe per capita - when last I saw an international comparison.
If you wish to discover who actually served on the high-minded and official-sounding 'Commission on English Prisons Today' just check out its website. The lead 'Commissioner' (it was set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform by the way) is none other than Cherie, and with one single exception all the other 'Commissioners' are the usual suspects of pro-criminal lobbying - Howard Leaguers, Professors of Criminology, Guardianistas, Parole Board members and so on. An objective, open-minded, research-based analysis it cannot remotely claim to be.