Johnson’s justice plans ‘monumental waste of money’

12 Aug 19

Boris Johnson’s plans to put money into prisons and the Crown Prosecution Service have been branded a “monumental waste of money” by a think-tank.

The new prime minister announced at the weekend that he would spend up to £2.5bn on creating 10,000 new prison places in England and Wales.

He also said he will give £85m to the CPS to help it better manage its caseloads.

The home secretary Priti Patel said over the weekend the government will extend ‘stop and search powers’ to 43 forces in England and Wales. ‘Stop and search’ powers are currently limited to a pilot of seven forces worst affected by knife crime.

And today Johnson ordered an “urgent” review of sentencing policy, which is expected to lead to tougher sentences for violent crimes.

The prime minister said victims and the public wanted to see “dangerous criminals… kept off our streets, serving the sentences they deserve.”

“We have all seen examples of rapists and murderers let out too soon or people offending again as soon as they’re released. This ends now,” said Johnson, two weeks after announcing plans to recruit 20,000 more police officers.

Charlotte Pickles, director of think-tank Reform, dismissed these ideas as “costly election baubles”, echoing the idea that the prime minister is preparing to call a general election.

She said: “Boris Johnson’s criminal justice reforms are a monumental waste of money.

“His proposed sentencing reforms ignore evidence that shows that longer prison sentences are ineffective at deterring crime or reducing reoffending.

“His unequivocal embrace of stop and search is dumbfounding – research shows it does little to prevent violence.”

Others also suspected Johnson’s ideas will not address the real problems in policing and the justice system.

Chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform Frances Crook said new prison places would in fact create more crimes.

Many people in prison become addicted to drugs, which further stretches health and police resources, Crook said. She also explained police resources often get tied up on dealing with the crime of having a mobile phone in prison, which was likely to be made worse with the increased prison places.

And shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the government should instead focus on tackling the causes of crime.

He said: “We’ve seen Tories before who talked tough on justice but failed to bring down the number of victims of crime.

“If Boris Johnson thinks that building more and more prisons will address this he is sadly mistaken.”

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