Conservative Party is the party of law and order, or it is nothing at all. The
public have always known that Conservatives will take their protection most
seriously, and that belief should never be allowed to wither.
But we are
no longer simply the Party of hanging and flogging. The world has moved on.
Today’s Conservatives must find the right balance between punishment and
rehabilitation. Punishment, because crime should have consequences.
Rehabilitation. because reoffending destroys lives – and the cycle of people
rotating round and round our criminal justice system costs a fortune and leaves
far too many victims.
are the hardest hardliner on crime, or the woolliest liberal, we all have an
interest in effective rehabilitation. That’s why
we are pressing ahead with the biggest reforms to our probation system in a
generation, and why we are looking at new ways of detaining teenage criminals
to improve their skills and education.
But we need
to act in our prisons too. In too many ways, the regime in our prisons has
become too lax. Rewards are given for simply being passive, not for
self-improvement. Perks are available that many on the outside cannot afford – or which are wholly
inappropriate in a prison. All of that has to change.
launch the biggest set of changes to our prison regime in decades. From now on, rewards will be linked to a prisoner’s efforts to turn their life around, and
those who refuse to co-operate will face a tougher and more Spartan regime. Convicted
prisoners who arrive in prison will now automatically wear prison clothes. It
amazes me that this wasn’t always the case. They will only earn back the right
to wear their own clothes if they have engaged in and are actively
pursuing rehabilitation .
refuse will not only continue in prison clothes, but will lose the televisions
in their cells as well. We will change the rules so
that those who damage their cells or other prison facilities will have
to contribute to the cost of repairs. The money
they earn in prison will also be closely linked to rehabilitation. Those who do
not engage will have less to spend on personal items from the prison shop or on
day will change, with prisoners getting up in the morning, spending more
time doing useful activities, and will be returned to their cells and locked up
earlier in the evening. There will be less time for casual association with
other prisoners. And the
frills of prison will go too. There will be no more Sky subscription
television. There will be no more 18 certificate DVDs. They should never have
been allowed in the first place, given the violence issue.
Prison should do two things. It should punish.
And it should rehabilitate. It should be humane. And there should be some
leisure. But the regime needs to remember why people are there in the first
place. With these changes it will.