In Monday’s committee stage debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Members of the House of Lords discussed a series of amendments on the sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP). The Bill has been rightly viewed as an example of penal policy at its worst – punitive, illiberal and unevidenced. In contrast, Monday’s debate showed Parliament at its best.
My fourth blogpost looks at the Conservative manifesto. The main problem is that many of the specific proposals are in opposition to evidence. Either they are not backed up by evidence, they are directly contradicted by evidence or, at best, they lack evidence.
My third review of the party manifestos is a critique of Labour’s plans. Yet again we see scaremongering about rising violent crime, which, as I said about the Lib Dem manifesto, is a perennial problem, and I am disappointed that a comprehensive plan to address violence is missing.
The justice secretary is to announce plans to change the law so that men (almost all of them will be men) who are serving long sentences for serious sex and violent crimes will have to serve at least two thirds of their sentence, instead of half.
The Victims Commissioner has written an open letter to the Attorney General asking him to undertake a comprehensive review of the Unduly Lenient Scheme, which provides for the public to ask the Attorney General to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal for being too low.
David Gauke has indicated he will resign as Justice Secretary when we have a new Prime Minister. He was hoping to have abolished short prison sentences but we now learn that the consultation on how to enact this has been delayed. Last week he published research showing that short prison sentences are counter-productive, so now the challenge will be fairly placed on whoever takes over as to whether evidence or cheap politics is the primary purpose of his or her decisions.
Community service, or unpaid work, had been a success story for decades; that is until Chris Grayling destroyed the probation service and split it, incorporating it into the private community rehabilitation companies.