“DEEPLY SCEPTICAL AS TO WHETHER CAMERON CAN DELIVER”
CONVERSE LEADER COMMENT 22/10/2012. 10.am
TOUGH BUT INTELLIGENT – REALLY?
The editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales has said he is ‘deeply sceptical’ as to whether David Cameron can deliver his ‘Tough But Intelligent’ policy on reducing crime to take place later today – précis follows at the end of this Press Release.
Mark Leech said: “I very much welcome this revisiting of criminal justice policy, but equally I am deeply sceptical about whether David Cameron can actually deliver his ‘Tough But Intelligent’ criminal justice agenda because whether you call it the ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’ as he does, or as Tony Blair called it 15 years ago ‘Tough on Crime Tough on the Causes of Crime” it is ultimately about the same thing in practice; rhetoric about reducing crime.
“And, while Tony Blair had all the resources of Government behind him in 1997 to deliver his tough on crime tough on the causes of crime policy, we no longer have that luxury – and even with all the resources Blair gave us 3000 new criminal offences, 25,000 more prisoners and he failed to address entirely the Tough on the Causes of Crime part of the policy at all.
“Blair left us with even more of the high crime inner city housing estates that existed when he came to power, and with precisely the same degree of unemployment, school exclusions, poor parenting, drug misuse and gang cultures existing when he left.
“Forced by a lack of resources to fund his policy Cameron is turning to the private and voluntary sector to help him deliver his ‘Tough But Intelligent’ policy to be announced later today, relying on a ‘Payments By Results’ method of funding it – but behind the scenes I can tell you there are huge arguments about what the ‘Payment By Results’ mechanism actually means – what ‘results’ amount to ‘results’, who assesses those ‘results’ and what level of ‘payment’ are we talking about here?
“When you start to probe and ask questions the ‘Payment By Results’ policy starts to unravel – if someone commits ten offences one year but only two the next is that a successful ‘result’ for which ‘payment’ will be made?
“If someone commits Grievous Bodily Harm one year but is then convicted of common assault the next, is that a successful ‘result’ for which ‘payment’ will be made?
“My fear is that like the Tough on Crime Tough on the Causes of Crime policy blind alley of Blair, we will get to the next election with exactly the same massive gap between the promise and the reality that we were faced with then – and in which there are no winners, just a society that has once again missed an opportunity to turn rhetoric into reality.”
Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales: read it here
EXTRACTS FROM DAVID CAMERON’S SPPECH EXPECTED LATER TODAY.
The Prime Minister is expected to say:
Two weeks ago, I spoke about this Government’s mission: to build an aspiration nation…
…where those who work hard can get on – and no one gets left behind.
A stronger private sector. Welfare that works. Schools that teach.
Today I want to talk about another, critical, part of helping people rise up…
…and that is confronting the crime and bad behaviour that holds so many down.
Go to some neighbourhoods in our country and you can feel that aspiration is dead.
Children learning from a young age that life is about surviving, not thriving.
Gang leaders as role models…
…drug dealers as career advisors.
This doesn’t just matter to the elderly lady with five bolts on her front door…
…or the woman terrified to walk home in the dark.
It matters to all of us.
We will not rise as a country if we leave millions behind and write off whole communities.
So today I want to tell you about our approach to crime and justice – and the bold, unprecedented action we’re taking.
For many people, I’m the person associated with those three words, two of which begin with ‘H’, and one of which is ‘hoodie’…
…even though I never actually said it.
For others, I’m the politician who has argued for tough punishment.
So do I take a tough line on crime – or a touchy-feely one?
In no other public debate do the issues get polarised like this.
On climate change you don’t have to be in denial or campaigning to get every car off the road.
Life isn’t that simple – so government policy isn’t that simple.
And yet with the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white.
Lock ‘em up or let ‘em out.
Blame the criminal or blame society.
‘Be tough’ or ‘act soft’.
We’re so busy going backwards and forwards we never move the debate on.
What I have been trying to do – in opposition and now in government – is break out of this sterile debate and show a new way forward: tough, but intelligent.
We need to be tough because the foundation of effective criminal justice is personal responsibility.
Committing a crime is always a choice.
That’s why the primary, proper response to crime is not explanations or excuses, it is punishment – proportionate, meaningful punishment.
And when the crime is serious enough, the only thinkable punishment is a long prison sentence.
This is what victims – and society – deserve.
Victims need to know the criminal will be held to account and dealt with.
And the ‘society’ bit matters: retribution is not a dirty word, it is important to society that revulsion against crime is properly recognised.
But punishment is what offenders both deserve and need, too.
It says to them: “You are adults. Your actions have consequences.”
To treat criminals as victims – to say they had no choice – is to treat them like children.
I firmly believe in their right to be treated as adults, with the responsibility to carry the consequences of their actions.
But that’s not the whole story.
Just being tough isn’t a successful strategy in itself.
Come with me to any prison in this country.
There you’ll meet muggers, robbers, and burglars.
But you’ll also meet young men who can’t read, teenagers on drugs, people who’ve never worked a day in their life.
These people need help so they can become part of the solution and not remain part of the problem.
Recognising this isn’t soft, or liberal.
It’s common sense.
We’ll never create a safer society unless we give people, especially young people, opportunities and chances away from crime.
Prevention is the cheapest and most effective way to deal with crime – everything else is simply picking up the pieces of failure that has gone before.
That’s part of what I mean by being intelligent as well as tough.
Not just saying what people want to hear, not playing to the gallery, but thinking hard about dealing with the causes of crime as well as the fall-out.
And today, being intelligent has got to mean something else too…
…achieving our ambitions when there is much less money than there used to be.
The politics of the blank cheque are well and truly over.
The only way to achieve our ambitions is reform – radical, intelligent reform.
So much of what went wrong in public services under the last Government wasn’t because the money was missing, it was that the methods were wrong.
Top-down, bureaucratic, centralising.
Judging every service by the money you put in and not by the service you got out.
Our whole reform agenda is about turning this on its head.
Going from big government to big society…
…more choice, more competition, more openness.
You see it in welfare providers paid by results…
…and hospitals publishing their results online.
Some say, this is fine in welfare, hospitals or schools, but it won’t work in criminal justice.
They think when it comes to keeping people safe, we’ve got to stick with the old, state-heavy approach.
It was the old approach that gave us police stuck behind desks filling in forms.
It left us with the criminal justice system chasing ridiculous, unhelpful targets.
And it left us with sky-high re-offending rates.
So we are bringing the logic of our public service reform agenda – transparency, payment by results, accountability – to transform criminal justice too.
Because every part of that system needs change.
Every part needs tough, but intelligent reform.
And today, I want to explain how that’s working, right through the criminal justice system.
I’m not going to try and out-bid any other politician on toughness, saying “let’s just bang them up for longer, let’s have more isolation, and once they’re out they’re on their own.”
I say: let’s use that time we’ve got these people inside to have a proper positive impact on them, for all our sakes.
It’s not a case of ‘prison works’ or ‘prison doesn’t work’ – we need to make prison work.
And once people are on the outside, let’s stick with them, let’s give them proper support…
…because it’s not outer space we’re releasing these people into – it’s our streets, our towns, among our families and our children.
That’s why this Government is engaged in what can only be described as a rehabilitation revolution – led by the new Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
His main, driving mission is this: to see more people properly punished, but fewer offenders returning to the system.
To achieve that, we’re saying to charities, companies and voluntary organisations – come and help us rehabilitate our prisoners.
Give offenders new skills. Educate them.
If they’ve been in a gang, send a reformed gang member to meet them at the prison gates and take them under their wing.
If they’re on drugs, try the latest techniques to get them clean.
Do whatever it takes to get these people back living decent, productive lives.
We will pay you for that…
…but – and it is a major but – once again the payments will depend on results.
We’re going to pay people by the lives they turn around.
Just think of what this means for the taxpayer.
When this Government came to power we were spending £40,000 a year just on banging people up.
With payment by results, your money goes into what works…
…prisoners going straight, crime coming down, our country getting safer.
It’s such a good idea I want to put rocket boosters under it…
…indeed today I have an announcement to make.
By the end of 2015, I want to see payment by results spread right across rehabilitation.
Of course, there will be some high-risk offenders for whom this is not appropriate…
…but this approach should be the norm rather than the exception.
And I want to see rehabilitation reach more of those who would benefit from it.
Today, rehab just goes to those who have been inside for a year or more.
But that misses all those who go in for shorter sentences yet re-offend time and time again.
So I want to look at making them part of the rehabilitation revolution too.