Friday, April 21, 2006
Cost Effective Justice Again
To us peasants it just seems so obvious. We may disagree about bringing back the rope, but we all agree bad guys should be locked up for a very long time- like for ever.
So wtf do we still keep getting all those outrageous cases where highly dangerous offenders get let out early to prey on our families? And wtf doesn't life mean life?
Charles Clarke reckons he can keep us safe by introducing the super-ASBO. He probably knows as well as we do that's cobblers: what we still want to know is why can't we just keep them inside?
Once again, the tired old cost argument is being wheeled out. So let's just remind ourselves of the facts.
The Prison Service is costing us £2.5bn this year, to incacerate 77,000 convicts and remand prisoners. That's £32,500 pa each. As previously blogged, to cut crime by 50% we need to bang up another 80,000 persistent offenders. Cost: an extra £2.6bn pa (actually less than the rough figure I estimated last time).
In the overall scheme of government spending, that's absolute chickenfeed- less than one-half per cent. And we could raise £1bn of it straight away by abolishing the ineffective Probation Service. Cutting police budgets by 10%- because with fewer criminals on the loose we'd need fewer coppers- would raise the other £1.5bn. And all those redundant coppers and probation officers would be emminently redeployable as prison staff.
No. Even against the background of Gordo's upcoming public expenditure freeze, the cost argument is a non-starter.
The real reason we're not been protected against dangerous reoffenders is of course that our criminal justice system has for so long been in the grip of our Panglossian liberal establishment. From Lord Wolf to Baroness Scotland to Martin Narey to Sir Ian Blair to all those top judges living in leafy streets well away from high crime areas etc etc. We currently have no democratic control over them, and there can be dire consequences for Home Secretaries who try: witness the demonisation of Michael Howard by the BBC and the rest of the lib media.
No wonder Clarke prefers blathering platitudes about how this time- for the first time ever- his souped up probation supervison system will work.
Something must be done to make these people directly answerable to us. Elected sheriffs would at least be a start.
Posted by Mike D at 5:43 pm