Friday 2 July 2010

Good for Ken!

Great to see Ken Clarke MP with the courage of his convictions saying prison does not work. It doesn't. The shame of Labour's failure to tackle both crime and the causes of crime has led us to the biggest numbers in prison for decades. And those on short sentences back in prison like a revolving door (80% rate of re-offending with a 6 month sentence). Nearly 70% overall. It's madness.

As Ken rightly said, "short-term sentences are ineffectual warehousing at best and often turn petty crooks into serious offenders."

Amusing to hear a Backbench Tory MP (in the "disgusted of Tunbridge-Wells" sort) fulminating about how we need to lock people up and punish them. Stopped short of bring back the stone breaking and noose though ...

It's time for real investment in third sector bodies who can break the mould. Break the patterns of re-offending. Innovative schemes like Bradford Dance Academy, St Giles Trust, Blue Skies. Time to empower them to deliver more.

Stop building more prisons and use that money as a capital pot to ensure third sector bodies take on more delivery.

I spent 20 years as a Youth court Magistrate in South London. I saw first hand the damage that prison can do to young people. It was never a sensible sentence. Nearly always a guarantee that the youngster was set to a career of crime. And the cost to the system? Incalculable. If only a proportion of the money we spent on youth offender institutions went to our third sector to work with and befriend these young people we could transform our system. So good to see a politician take on the Daily Mail and all that noisy wicked lobby who crave to lock 'em up!

But there is a serious flaw with the plans. As with DWP, and other Departments, moving to payment by results means up front capital investment. Where are the plans this please?

Even one of the biggest rehabilitation charities has reserves of less than two months and practically no asset base. Will the banks lend? Will they hell! They wouldn't lend in the good times so cat in hells chance now its bad. The Big Society Bank is at least 18 months off. So where is the capital investment to come from ?

Oh, I have an idea; Futurebuilders! Reopen the Fund with a major capital investment from the Treasury of £1 billion. Stop the interest payments robbery. If you are serious about cutting public spending this is a wise investment. If you are serious about Big Society it is an essential one.
So enough on prisons. I'm packing my suitcase and off to Istanbul. No, not another conference. Not a seminar or case study visit. A holiday! A glorious break. Every good leader deserves a treat.

But never fear. The Blog must go on. And it will. Shan't send you to many photos though. Just my thoughts from afar on the challenges we face.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This shower will do want they want regardless of lobbying. They will say that they have a majority whereas we have two minorities in a combination that no one voted for. We may as well accept that in five years time we will be creating a new fourth estate as the third sector will have gone. Quote from leader of Walsall Counil to 3rd sector bodies "If your cheque is not in the bank do not assume that it is in the post. We need to save £3,000,000 from 3rd sector bodies". No thought as to what they do - just an easy target. It seems that this is a Tory policy which the Lib Dems have swallowed without a whimper because they have an AV referendum. (some greater good that is!) Democracy bites and it will bite back and maybe the old; the vulnerable; the marginalised will find a voice between now and May 2015. They will need it.