River Wissey Lovell Fuller


May 2002

Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime

That is what they said. How are they doing? Now they are talking again about cracking down on crime, especially street crime. Is it just more talk? There is no point in making more effort to catch the culprits if the resulting punishment is not a deterrent to future criminal activity. I'm not really a member of the 'flog 'em and hang 'em' brigade but I do think that we are still being too soft and the latest move to allow more criminals out with curfew tags is, I believe, a move in the wrong direction. . It seems to bother politicians and some 'do gooders' that we have a larger prison population than some other countries. There is also a steady moan about the cost of prisons, £1.9 billion a year I have read, and that has led to a consequent reluctance on the part of politicians to the building of more prisons to cope with the present overcrowding. I have also read, however, that crime is estimated to cost the nation £200 billion a year, against that £1.9 billion for prisons looks like small beer. There have been too many incidents of violent criminal being allowed out of prison on parole, only for them to go and commit more violent crimes or even murder. Why can't we make the term in prison dependent upon the individual's progress towards becoming a responsible citizen, why can't we make attendance at courses or the learning of trades a requirement whilst they are in prison and their release dependent upon their progress? That would certainly give them some incentive to acquire appropriate skills as opposed to the skills that they seem to acquire whilst in prison these days.

Perhaps our ancestors approach to the punishment for petty crimes, that was the use of stocks or pillories, was not such a bad idea, it was probably very effective and, no doubt, would be effective today

Ron Watts

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