Robin Walker, Parliamentary Candidate for Worcester spoke out today for sanity on sentencing, calling for an end to Labour's disastrous early release policy.
It emerged recently that 466 criminals were let out of prison before finishing their sentences in Worcestershire in the six months from June to December, under Labour's controversial early release scheme.
Across the country, 16,197 criminals have already walked out of prison early under the ‘end of custody licence' system, with an estimated 25,500 criminals to be let out over a full year, almost seventy a day. They include violent offenders and foreign nationals convicted of serious offences. The scheme was introduced because a shortage in prison places, thanks to the funding crisis caused by Gordon Brown.
Labour Ministers are now planning a new sentencing quango, which would, for the first time, link sentences to prison capacity, so that when jails are full, criminals could receive shorter sentences or not be sent to prison at all.
Robin Walker, Parliamentary Candidate for Worcester said,
"Labour is releasing prisoners early in Worcestershire at a rate of more than two per day. For the party that promised to be tough on crime, this is an incredible statistic. Along with their cavalier treatment of the police, these figures show that Labour is not taking law and order seriously."
"People in Worcester want to see crime dealt with and they want to see their politicians support the police. Serious crimes should be punished by a prison sentence, not least to protect the public. It is no wonder that violent crime has doubled under this Government. This is fundamentally wrong. Sentences should fit the crime, not this week's prison capacity."
Notes to Editors
Labour giving prisoners a break
The Government is trying to deal with the continuing shortfall in prison places by watering down sentences and attempting to restrict the ability of courts to send offenders to prison.
•· The Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill, currently before the House of Commons, ends magistrates' powers to impose a suspended sentence, and limits the period served in custody by offenders who breach their licence conditions to just 28 days.
•· The Government plans to restrict the use of its flagship Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). There will be a minimum tariff of two years below which Judges will no longer be able be impose an IPP. This would affect half the cases in which IPPs are currently imposed for threats to kill, arson, sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, and most cases of sexual assault on a child under 13. The whole point of these sentences was to protect the public, ensuring that offenders could not be released until they were judged no longer to be a threat. Now they will be released automatically.
•· A new Sentencing Commission will, for the first time, link sentences to resources, so that when jails are full, criminals could receive shorter sentences or not be sent to prison at all.
•· It appears that the End of Custody Licence scheme, under which 11,000 offenders have already been released from jail 18 days early, will now continue indefinitely - even though it was meant to be a temporary measure. The Government expects to release 25,500 offenders early in a single year.
The Conservative Solution
Conservatives are calling for:
•· An immediate halt to the early release scheme, and the introduction of an emergency prison places programme using the savings from scrapping the flawed Identity Card scheme.
•· Doubling the sentencing powers of magistrates to 12 months and repealing any new restrictions on their ability to hand down suspended sentences.
•· Honesty in sentencing so that convicted criminals serve the minimum sentence handed down to them by the courts.
•· Sufficient prison capacity to hold all those sentenced by the courts - and reforming prison regimes to break the cycle of re-offending.
The Government has published figures showing the number of criminals that have been let out of prison early, under the Government's early release scheme. The figures below show the number let out from June to October. Figures in bold show the Worcestershire numbers.
Source: Ministry of Justice, End of Custody Licence Statistics, February 2008.
Early releases to date
Eccleshall, Staffordshire, ST21 6LQ
Winson Green Road, Birmingham, B18 4AS
Hewell Lane, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 6QS
Hewell Lane, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 6RD
HMP Hewell Grange
Redditch, Worcs, B97 6QQ
The Dana, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 2HR
24 Gaol Road, Stafford, ST16 3AW
HMYOI Stoke Heath
Market Drayton, Shropshire, TF9 2JL
HMYOI Swinfen Hall
Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS14 9QS