More for prison-building, less for schools investment

Richard Garside
Friday, 3 July 2020

Last weekend's reannouncement of plans to waste £2.5 billion building four new prisons brings home just how deeply entrenched prisons are as social institutions.

As my colleague Matt Ford points out in this piece, the latest announcement is something of a repackaging and enhancement of a pledge made several years ago, during David Cameron's premiership, though with a difference.

Cameron's government proposed a "new for old" policy. The latest plans, a manifesto pledge from last year's General Election, are unambiguously expansionist: 10,000 new places, on top of the 3,500 pledged under a previous programme.

To put these latest plans in perspective, alongside its prison plans, the government also announced, this week, plans to spend a mere £1 billion, over a decade, on a "major new investment" in school buildings.

There can be few better examples of misguided priorities than this.

The prison-building plans are, though, but part of a major prison expansion programme currently underway. As our latest UK Justice Policy Review report, published this week, points out, the governments in London and Edinburgh are busy expanding prison capacity. Over 25,000 additional places have either been created, or are being planned in the coming years.

Read more on this here.

Later in July, we will be holding our latest webinar, on the prospects for short prison sentence reform in England and Wales. My colleague Helen Mills has written a piece explaining the thinking behind the webinar. If you have not already done so, you can register to attend here.