Now is the time to cut prisoner numbers

Date: 
Thursday, 12 May, 2016

Our Director, Richard Garside, today welcomed calls for a cut in the high number of people locked up in prisons across England and Wales.

The Conservative Chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, is one of a growing number of figures calling for a reduction in the prison population.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Neill said that he was looking for a reduction in the prison population 'straight away'. He was joined by the former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke MP, who said that the government's prison reforms would not succeed until the prison population was reduced.

The former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Ramsbotham told the BBC that the prison system would be 'choked' if there was not a reduction in numbers.

Speaking ahead of a meeting on sentencing reform, with the justice minister Dominic Raab MP, Richard said:

'If our imprisonment rate today was the same as the rate during the 1980s, when Mrs Thatcher was in Downing Street, there would be 30,000 fewer people in prison.

'The rate of crime and lawbreaking is not fundamentally different than it was 30 years ago. What's changed is the way we deal with suspected and convicted lawbreakers.

'We are better at criminalising people and at giving longer sentences to those who are convicted.

'Sentencing and punishment are no longer the subject of party political point scoring in the way they once were. The government has an opportunity to be bold in its sentencing reforms, and chart a path towards a downsized prison system. It should seize this opportunity.'