Tag Archives: rehabilitation

21 February 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

Apologies to all for last night’s failure to file. It didn’t mean that there weren’t any, more that I was engaged in a bout of constitution wrangling and lost track of time. So, without further ado…

Cable: Govt must level the playing field between the high street and online

Responding to the report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee calling on the Government to consider the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

While our high streets are going through an extremely difficult time, with the right action from

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The Shamima Begum Case: As with Brexit, the Dutch are better prepared for what is coming anyway

As has become a tradition over the past decades, the LibDems and Dutch sister party D66 sing from exactly the same hymn sheet on the subject of taking back “ISIS jihad brides” and their children from the Syrian-Kurdish YPG/SDF prisoner camps they’re housed in at the moment.

And just as usual, the ALDE right wing (in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD) is fervently opposed to taking back anybody who has moved to the ISIS Caliphate since 2014, thus bending liberal, judicial and humanist principles to populist kneejerk reactions.

In the Netherlands, Rutte and the VVD know they stand alone (among non-populist, centrist, normal thinking parties) in refusing re-entry; and they know they’re ignoring a special article in the Dutch Constitution. The country of Grotius declares in article 90 of our constitution:

The government stimulates the development of the international rule of law and juridical order.

Scrupulous care for human rights, and the welcome (and where necessary judgment) to “lost sons”, are thus part of what Dutch governments and prime ministers must stand for. And D66 has a traditional attitude of caring about such aspects especially.

In a TV election debate in 2015, VVD leader and (then also) Prime Minister Rutte shocked everybody present by agreeing to the statement: “people travelling to the ISIS Caliphate are better off dying there and shouldn’t be allowed to return”.

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The day the arts took a swipe at cuts…

On March 31st my colleague Alex and I went to see the play “The day the arts took a swipe at cuts”.

My friend Alex and I actually went to see the play “Victim” which is currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington. We did this after being contacted through our roles with Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform and a brilliantly hard-hitting show it was too.

“Victim” is a play that perfectly demonstrates how broken our prison system is. It tells the harrowing tale of the power struggle between the inmate and the guard, and the roles they play in a system that has been brutally hit by harsher-than-necessary cuts. This blog is not so much a review (such a phenomenal performance has no shortage of positive reviews) as it is a cry out for support and an end to cuts in this frankly broken prison system.

The Prison Reform organisation, Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform have, since our launch, been looking for a way to exemplify how much reform is needed to our prison system to make it fit for the 21st century. This play does this in a way no article or speech has managed to do yet. Fydor Dovtoyevsky once said, “the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I must say that the fact that this theatre company wrote and performed this moving piece is testament to the scale of the challenge we as a country face.

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Why criminal records have to go

If you ask Lib Dems whether they suppport prison reform, they will say yes. A general chat about rehabilitation, drug laws, mental health funding and Scandenavia usually ensues – all of which I wholly endorse. But if we are really going to address our prison crisis, then criminal records are the elephant in the room.

Rehabilitation is about allowing people to become productive parts of society after they leave prison, and discouraging reoffending. One of the best ways to do this is to help people find employment (as page 8 of the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation document confirms). If someone lands a stable job after leaving prison, then of course they’re less likely to reoffend. Employment gives people structure, income and purpose. It’s common sense that it helps them reintegrate into society.

But if ex-prisoners have to disclose their criminal records as soon as they apply for a job, why are we surprised that so many of them remain unemployed? What incentive do employers have to take a chance on them, when the job market is so tough as it is? We seem to paradoxically believe that it’s important for ex-offenders to find work, but that no employer should have to risk hiring them. Employers might feel safer being able to sivve former criminals out without hesitation, but it’s agonizingly counter-productive for society. Poor rehabilitation leads to an increase in crime, and puts all of us in danger. Freezing ex-offenders out of the job market makes everyone less safe.

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Opinion: Are we transforming rehabilitation?

On Tuesday the London ‘Standard’ had the depressing headline “Rioters in new crime wave”. According to official statistics 1593 of the 3914 people charged or cautioned by the Met following the riots in August 2011 have since reoffended.

At our Autumn Conference in the month following the riots, I raised concerns as a Haringey magistrate that a knee-jerk approach was being taken to sentencing, with courts sitting overnight, dishing out custodial sentences as fast as they could. Prisons became overcrowded, sometimes with three prisoners sharing a cell meant for one; and precious little rehabilitation was going on.

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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 …

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Tom McNally writes… transforming rehabilitation

For decades Britain has been locking people up for short periods of time only to see them reoffend as soon as they are released from prison. This party has long recognised that the criminal justice system just wasn’t working in preventing reoffending.

Nearly half – 47.5% – of those leaving prison are reconvicted within a year. For prisoners sentenced to less than 12 months it is almost 60%. The cost of reoffending by ex-offenders to our economy each year is between £9.5bn and £13bn. This is not good enough. Victims of crime deserve better than this. Society as a whole …

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Time Banking: A simple route to community spirit?

Ever since my unsuccessful council by-election campaign in November I’ve had a burning desire to ask more positive questions of the electorate in the run-up to my next council election in May. What kind of volunteering might you be interested in getting involved in? What kind of skills do you have that you might like to pass on to others in the community? What interests and hobbies might you like to share with your neighbours? I had notions of gathering this data together and then signposting voters to voluntary groups or suggesting they get together with others who share their …

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Opinion: Green Paper on Crime – “Breaking the Cycle”

The government published the Green Paper on reforming the Criminal Justice System “Breaking the Cycle” in November with most news coverage centring on proposals for “payment by results” and putting physical work apparently at the centre of prison life. However, behind the headlines this is in many ways the most thoughtful government document on crime in years, a clear move away from “Prison Works” and a return to increased professional discretion as opposed to Whitehall dictats.

The paper is not without its problems. The headline of prisoners working a forty hour week is totally unrealistic given current prison structures, issues …

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