Mike Crockart MP writes… Reducing reoffending and cutting crime

Wormwood Scrubs prison - Some rights reserved by TheGoogly3 years ago Liberal Democrats entered into the Coalition to put our nation’s economy back on track; building a fairer society and a stronger economy. But it wasn’t just about doing things in the national interest, we also went into Government to put Liberal Democrat policies into action.

At conference last year I moved a motion on reoffending so I am pleased that today Nick Clegg has set out many of the ideas passed by conference to rebuild our criminal justice system. Our plans are revolutionising a system which was broken: reducing reoffending and cutting crime; making Britain a safer place.

Instead of talking tough on crime while being soft on the treatment of criminals we are taking decisive steps to cut crime whilst maintaining our civil liberties. Our answer is not to introduce ID cards and install CCTV on every street corner and yet crime is at its lowest recorded level.

Cutting reoffending and dealing with those caught up in the revolving door of prison is key. We need to move these individuals away from crime and set them on a better path.

We know that short term prison sentences are expensive and ineffective. That’s why we want to see a presumption in favour of robust community sentences and restorative justice. For those who do end up with a custodial sentence we want them to leave with a chance to turn their lives around by focussing on giving individuals job skills. Over the last year we have increased the hours that prisoners work by 800,000. We also want to help those who offend because of illness and addiction by diverting mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and towards treatment; and introducing drug recovery wings within prisons for those caught up in re-offending because of drug abuse.

But there needs to be balance and we’ve not forgotten the victims; those whose lives are affected by the selfish acts of the minority. For Liberal Democrats it is vital that victims are properly supported throughout the criminal justice process, that they fully understand what is happening at every stage and have a strong voice. That is why since entering Government we have offered greater support to victims; giving them and their communities more of a say about punishment through restorative justice – things like community resolution panels.

Of course this approach can’t be used to deal with serious crimes or for repeat offenders. But it can help where a person has admitted their guilt, shown remorse and is willing to make amends.

For all cases which go through the criminal justice system honesty in sentencing is vital to public confidence in the criminal justice system. We need a punishment and rehabilitation regime that makes sense to ordinary people, and which is fair, transparent and effective. To ensure that people do have confidence in the system we have conducted a full review of sentencing policy. We are committed to giving consideration to the way the meaning of a ‘life sentence’ can vary from case to case as well as the practice of giving an automatic sentence reduction if an offender pleads guilty early on in a trial.

In Government we are making the changes which will make a difference to the lives of all those affected by crime.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • It’s good to see a recognition that CCTV is not the answer to crime, and that ‘what works’, especially with younger petty offenders, is training them to behave better, rather than reinforcing negative self-image by punishing. It’s also refreshing that Mike focusses on actual changes to what happens to offenders in this article, and does not attempt to argued that huge benefits will accrue from changes in ownership structures.

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