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Ken Clarke says imprisonment not linked to crime fall

July 14, 2010

Mr Clarke told judges at their annual Mansion House Dinner in London
that “no-one can prove cause and effect” for why crime fell in the

His comments come after former Tory home secretary Michael
Howard recently criticised him for attacking high imprisonment rates.

…In his speech on Tuesday night, Mr Clarke said: “There is and never
has been, in my opinion, any direct correlation between spiralling
growth in the prison population and a fall in crime.

“Crime has fallen in Britain throughout a period of both
rising prison populations, and throughout the same period of economic
growth, with strong employment levels and rising living standards.

“No-one can prove cause and effect. The crime rate fell but
was this the consequence of the policies of my successors as home
secretary or, dare I gently hint, mine as chancellor of the exchequer at
the beginning of a period of growth and strong employment? We will
never know.”

The justice secretary, who favours rehabilitation and
community sentences, said crime had fallen in Canada in the 1990s after
the prison population was cut by 11% and that crime did not rise
significantly in Finland when similar measures had been taken there.

… Dame Anne Owers’ warning that prisons are now increasing brittle came
in her valedictory lecture to the Prison Reform Trust on Tuesday night.

She said prisons “had become better places” but progress in
rehabilitating offenders was slow because of the growing prison

She called upon ministers to “do things differently” in the
“age of austerity” and invest in alternatives to prisons.

“We now have an inflated prison system in a shrinking state.
It [is] crucial to invest in ‘not prison’ – both instead of and after
prison,” she said.

…A Ministry of Justice spokesman said as part of the “rehabilitation
revolution”, the government was working towards providing a “fit for
purpose prison estate” by building new prisons and closing “inefficient
and worn out places”.

“The government has announced its intention to conduct a full
assessment of sentencing policy to ensure that it is effective in
deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting
re-offending,” he added.

Read the full article.  


See the government’s structural reform plan that includes an evaluation of sentencing policies including restorative justice:

Reform of sentencing and penalties

Ensure that the justice system protects the public and reduces reoffending by introducing more effective sentencing policies and considering the use of restorative justice for adult and youth crimes.



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