Public services funding

There are several stories in the press this morning that caught my attention.

The front page of the Guardian says there is to be a decade of pain for public services.  This will hit the prisons and other parts of the criminal justice system.  And so it should because they are poor value for money .  Michael Bichard is quoted as saying that the public debate about public spending is undeveloped and I agree with him.  We have to think more carefully about how we spend public money on the penal system when much of the expenditure and effort only makes things worse.  The unnecessary and excessive use of failing prisons helps to fuel crime and fear rather than contributing to a safer society.  As part of the public debate on how we invest these huge resources we must talk about diverting funding to social services, health and housing and away from prisons and correctional surveillance.  The report “Do Better Do Less” shows how.

There are a couple of celebrities in the news too, both allegedly for taking a swipe at someone.  Steven Gerrard in a bar and Amy Winehouse at a charity ball.  The cases are being heard so obviously I cannot comment, but all I would say is that the criminal court process is a blunt instrument for dealing with this sort of incident.  Whilst violence calls for a response, would some form of victim centred mediation or restorative event not be better for everyone?

The other interesting story is that police numbers have now reached 143,770, an all time high and if we include community and other support officers there are 250,000 people in uniform on our streets.  One of the largest increase was in Cambridgeshire.  I saw that for myself when a fracas in the street caused 22 police vehicles to screech in with police officers getting very excited.  The whole road was blocked with police milling about not knowing what to do as it was clear that nothing was happening.  Too many police spoil the broth.

July 24, 2009 · Frances Crook · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Government policy, Police, Prisons, Sentencing

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