New Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Nick Herbert has linked the sharp increase in the number of prison suicides to the problem of prison overcrowding:

"These are deeply troubling figures and there must be a real fear that
the increase in suicides is linked to overcrowding.  The Government’s
failure to plan for sufficient prison capacity doesn’t just compromise
public safety – it also has a human cost."

The "public safety" consequences of the failure to build more prison places has been highlighted in another statement from CCHQ – but from Shadow Home Secretary David Davis:

“The Government need to realise that not building extra places is a false economy. Non-custodial sentences simply fail to punish or rehabilitate. The Government’s flagship ISSP programme has a youth re-offending rate of 91 per cent. As for tagging – which was extensively rolled out by Jack Straw when he was Home Secretary – the IT has a 15 per cent failure rate, offenders can breach curfews for 3 years without penalty and perverse targets mean breaches are ignored. In fact six murders and 1,000 violent crimes have been committed by those on tags.
Lack of custodial places not only means that offenders who should be in jail are not in jail. It also means that prisoners are released early or constantly moved around and not allowed to settle. Either way they do not receive effective and sustained rehabilitation and re-offending continues to increase under Labour. If you don’t address overcrowding you won’t improve rehabilitation rates. If you don’t improve rehabilitation, you won’t cut re-offending which makes up half of all crime. After ten years the government and Gordon Brown still don’t get this.”

‘Crime and security’ is set to be one of the Tories top four election issues – alongside the family, the NHS and the environment.  On crime it is vital that Brown’s failure to fund prison building is blamed for the overcrowding and associated endangering of the public.

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