Prison system must "do more for less" to break the cycle of criminals reoffending, says David Cameron


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Indy Politics

Private firms and charities will be put at the heart of efforts to break the cycle of reoffending among hardened criminals, David Cameron said today as he set out plans for a “tough but intelligent” criminal justice policy.

They will work with all inmates – not just those serving sentences of a year or more – and will be paid by results depending on levels of reoffending after their release. Almost all offenders will be offered rehabilitation by the end of 2015.

Mr Cameron acknowledged that the moves – widely interpreted as a break from a more liberal approach to sentencing – would be difficult to drive through in the face of the Government’s spending squeeze.

But he said ministers and prison chiefs had to “do more for less" to break the cycle of reoffending.

Speaking in London, he said: "I say let's use that time we have got these people inside to have a proper positive impact on them... it is not a case of 'prison works' or 'prison does not work' - we need to make prison work better.

"And once people are on the outside, let's stick with them, and give then proper support."

Speaking in London today, the Prime Minister sought to steer a middle course as he tried to rise above what he will call a “sterile debate” about whether politicians are “tough” or “soft” on crime and justice.

He said: “Retribution is not a dirty word, it is important to society that revulsion against crime is properly recognised.  But punishment is what offenders both deserve and need, too.  To treat criminals as victims – to say they had no choice – is to treat them like children.”

Inviting comparisons with Tony Blair’s “tough on crime and the causes of crime” mantra, he said it was not “soft or liberal” but “common sense” to recognise that people must be given opportunities away from crime.   He said: “Prevention is the cheapest and most effective way to deal with crime – everything else is simply picking up the pieces of failure that has gone before.”

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, yesterday announced tougher sentences for middle men who supply guns to criminals. “Those people who are supplying the firearms are as guilty as the people using them when it comes to the impact,” she said.  The maximum penalty may be raised from 10 years in prison to life.