Ken Clarke recently caused a flurry when he said that short sentences should be scrapped.  The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which this morning published a Green Paper on Criminal Justice and Addiction, agrees with him – as the paper makes clear.

The media may thus pick up this one element of the report, causing some to claim that the CSJ's "soft on crime".  A fairer reading is that the proposals set out on the Green Paper, viewed as a whole, represent "tough love", inspired by the compassion-imbued, Christianity-inspired vision characteristic of the institution.

Key recommendations include –

  • Scrapping the National Treatment Agency for drug addicts and
    replacing it with an Addiction Recovery Board charged with getting
    addicts off drugs and alcohol through, for instance, greater use of
    pioneering recovery communities.
  • A zero-tolerance approach by the police to anti-social behaviour
    with every officer given the freedom to exercise common-sense and
    discretion and intervene immediately to nip in the bud loutish
  • Electing new crime and justice commissioners to bring control of
    local policing back into local hands.
  • Abolishing the expensive, bureaucratic and remote National Offender
    Management System (NOMS) and replacing it with local trusts working
    closely with communities and elected police commissioners.
  • A renewed assault on drug and alcohol use in prison to include
    tougher enforcement through the greater use of sniffer dogs and drug
    testing and rehousing inmates in secure community rehabilitation
  • A second chance Act to enable and assist people with a criminal
    record to find stable employment

The proposals sound like a mix of greater localism, a prison crackdown on illegal drugs and a transformation of the state agencies that deal with rehabilitation.

Paul Goodman

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