Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prison Lies

Nobody could possibly have predicted it

We can hardly be surprised that Mr Liar is signing off with yet more lies, but he served up some truly classic porkies at PMQs today.

Dave was quizzing him on the latest stage of the prisons fiasco. As you will know, our prisons now have a record 81,000 inmates, and with the cells now bursting, 25,000 convicts are to be released early onto our streets over the next year.

Although we all know this results from the catastrophic failure of his government, Liar had the brassneck to claim nobody could have forseen the problem:

"As a result of the fact that we've exceeded even the top-end projection for the numbers of people in prison - that projection having been made last year - then there is a requirement for us to release prisoners early, 18 days before the end of their sentence..."

We've blogged the prisons crisis many times of course, and last year we took a look at the Home Office projections- the ones Liar refers to (see this blog and chart above). We said:

"Back in 1998 the Home Office forecast a need for 82,800 places by last year (central projection). And in 2002 they forecast a range of possible requirements for this year, ranging from 86,700 to 100,700. Yes that's right, somewhere between 7,000 and 21,000 more places than they've actually built."

Now it is true that the published HO projections seem to wang about all over the place from year to year. But that's because they're driven by the political pressures of the moment. And these days that means Gordo's arbitrary HO spending freeze (albeit it was partially reversed yesterday in his panicky announcement to police chiefs of £50m for extra places).

After a decade in which the prison population has grown by one-third (20,000) and which has seen a continuing and unbroken capacity crisis, nobody could possibly have believed some rose tinted projection that suddenly the problem had gone away. Could they?

Liar ain't an idiot, so he can only be the other thing.

PS Falconer's line on his humiliating U-turn is another classic. Just five weeks ago he specifically denied that he was even considering early releases. Yet according to the anonymous gremlin he pushed forward to answer questions on it last night, although there has now been a U-turn, in point of fact there hasn't been. Either Charlie thinks we're all too stupid to notice, or like the rest of them he's disappeared up his own mucoid spin gland.

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