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April 14, 2015

criminal justice and the manifestos – the curate’s egg

The political parties who have produced manifestos so far all deal with crime and justice, but none are promoting it as a key issue, partly because polling reveals that is not a particularly salient issue for voters.  Crime is going down, and people are becoming less worried about it.  So it makes more sense to focus on the economy, the NHS and education.  Its perhaps a good thing that they are not making much of crime since the temptation would be to vie to be tougher than the other party.  As it is, the Conservatives have today advocated for longer sentences for serious offences.  I presume opinion polling has told them this is popular, but it defies logic and would blow the already under pressure prison budget.  We already have some of the longest prison sentences in Western Europe, which have drifted upwards due to primary legislation and the Sentencing Council guidelines.  Longer sentences for serious crimes will achieve nothing since they will have neither a deterrent nor a rehabilitative effect.  In fact they will reduce the potential for prisons to rehabilitate, since the more prison numbers go up, the fewer resources are available for anything other than “marking” prisoners.