Wednesday, June 14, 2006

£3bn Well Spent


Typical cell at HMP Parc

We've blogged many times about cost effective justice ( see here for summary). So we're heartened to see the growing support for building more prison places. A few more TV interviews with the head of the Probation Service explaining how there was "no way of telling" a previously convicted paedophile might be a danger to children, and the demands will become unstoppable.

As we've blogged before, the stats say that to halve our crime rate, we need to double the number of prisoners to about 160,000. It will cost about £3bn pa, just over one-half per cent of public expenditure, and chickenfeed against the £100bn pa cost of crime.

For that we get 80,000 modern prison places provided and managed by private sector specialists. Prisons such as Parc in Bridgend, managed by Securicor and costing taxpayers £38,000 pa per place. When I visited, I was much taken by the "in-cell sanitation, natural and forced ventilation, in-cell electrics, in-cell TV, Pool & Table Tennis Tables". A bit too much of a holiday camp for the Major's taste perhaps, but most of us just want bad guys taken off the streets.

So lets hope Reid is more than just talk. It's no good complaining about short sentences without providing the extra prison places. And he could get a billion of that £3bn by scrapping the hopeless Probation Service.

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