The Scottish Parliament votes this week on measures to tackle reoffending in its Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill. The SNP are promoting a presumption against sentences of six months or less though has had to compromise down to three months in the face of opposition objections.
The Scottish Tories in turn may have to compromise on their ‘old-skool’ approach as a result of the UK Tories (in the shape of Ken Clarke) voicing support for an overhaul of prisons to end the mere ‘warehousing of people’, a stance similar to that of the SNP’s.
Labour’s rather uncompromising contribution is to insist on mandatory six month sentences for knife carriers, continuing the recent party trend of not wishing to appear soft on crime, whatever the cost.
Were Labour and the Tories to vote against the Bill, the message would be that opposition is easy. You can object to the Government’s plans without the responsibility of having your own half-baked ideas put to the test. New prisons to back up Labour’s tougher stance would cost tens of millions, money that just isn’t there to be spent. You can’t compromise on crime some may say but with 25% cuts on the way, I would suggest that you’re going to have to.
And anyway, if rehabilitation and community payback is more effective, cheaper and increases the probability of offenders turning a corner and not reoffending then I’m all for it and struggle to see a downside. Locking up a reoffender for six months would just delay the reoffending. An attempt at tackling the root of the problem will always be a more laudable aim.
And at the end of the day, if bitter old foes the SNP and Tories are coming to the same conclusion, then there’s more than a decent shout that it’s the right way to go.
However, that comes with one personally feeling compromised, thanks in no small part to the blurring of the old left-right spectrum. My lenient, liberal views on crime now has me aligned with the Conservatives!?
Well, Ken Clarke at least. Let’s not get carried away…
And now Marf on the loons…
14 minutes ago