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Release people who shouldn't be incarcerated in the first place. Leave prison for those who actually pose a threat to the public.

I sincerely hope that Conservative prison reforms do not hold back on the serious issues like violent crime and prison capacity.

The last thing we need is a gently-gently approach to policy on such a key issue in the minds of voters.

Just as with the NHS, the prison crisis is leading to people dying as a result of Labour government policy. This is unacceptable. Punishment has become diluted under Labour and with it the time needed for rehabilitation.

This issue will have much more impact on drinkers in the Dog and Duck and over tea at 2 Acacia Avenue than Northern Wreck.


This fact wasn't on yesterday's list of fifty Labour achievements!


Nick Herbert keeps impressing me.
He combines intellect, energy and steel.

With my tongue firmly in my cheek, 21 spare places, enough for most of the Cabinet.

Such a damning indictment on NuLab.

We need perhaps to remind ourselves of those famous words of St Tone of B-Liar about crime the causes of crime and being tough. It needs to be repeated, quite regularly and NuLab shamed for the manner of their irresponsible dereliction of office.

Perhaps we should be grateful that so many have been released early already, otherwise no doubt, we should be subject to sanctions from the UN and EU for keeping prisoners in a manner that is contradictory to their human rights.

Time for the party to give some very clear messaging on law and order and prisons.

What did come over very clear yesterday from Ipswich, was a demand for the return of capital punishment. Never mind Brussels and other external factors, if the people want it, then the party should be responding.

In my youth I saw a prison camp for German PoWs with 30 huts x 60 people with full sanitary and catering arrangements up and running from scratch in 4 weeks! The size was doubled soon after, The camp, of course, complied with the geneva Convention .

If they really cared about being tough on crime they could do this for non-violent offenders very quickly indeed and the 76 old who refused to pay his Council Tax should not now be in prison at all. (Even allowing for the fact that he had undoubtedly broken the law this was a matter for the bailliffs not prison)

We are rapidly approaching the point where a custodial sentence will become a very rare disposal in the Magistrates Court. In fact, in the case of a persistent 'low-level' offender, the current situation could be characterised as follows:

1. Fines - the offender is very likely to be on benefits and might well have several hundred pounds worth of fines already outstanding, often for similar offences. In such a case it is well nigh impossible to impose a meaningful fine.

2. Community Order - the offender might well have 'failed to respond' to previous community sentences, which means there is little point in imposing another one. In any case, the Probation Service is under-funded and, if the offender is on drugs, this is deemed to render him/her unsuitable for unpaid work.

3. Custody - magistrates are now being encouraged to reserve custodial sentences for serious cases involving the use of violence (most of which are dealt with by the Crown Court anyway).

Perhaps Mr Straw could advise what is to be done (in the absence of secure drug rehabilitation centres) with the woman on benefits convicted of her 22nd shoplifting offence, committed to support her drug habit; or with the man convicted for the 5th time of driving whilst disqualified?

Neither of these cases involves violence, but imprisonment could be the only realistic sentence.

So why in the name of God are they imprisoning pensioners for the non-payment of council tax?


"So why in the name of God are they imprisoning pensioners for the non-payment of council tax?"

Because its a state crime.
Ordinary crime is not against the state so they don't care, but heckle someone important at a party conference and you are for the high jump.

21 prison places left?.....and over 300 Labour MPs?....yes, that is a tough situation.


Yes Cranmer, having just come in I didn't get there before you!

I was going to post - BUT there is always room for pensioners who decide that they cannot pay their Council Tax. What a threat they are to anybody, and it is no argument for some diddy-type like Blears to come on the Beeb and say - 'Oh it isn't up to us, its the local Council's fault that they pensioners are imprisoned'. How they love saying that especially if the council is Conservative! But actually the .....government - if they wanted, which of course they don't, because the people protesting are invariably MIDDLE CLASS - as I say IF they wanted they could quite easily issue a directive to Councils that elderly pensioners should not be imprisoned, when there is such a shortage of space in prisons!!! BUT THIS GOVERNMENT WON'T, FOR THE REASONS THAT I HAVE STATED ABOVE!!!!

I bet the MPs are relieved!

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