Bit odd

New prison in Port Talbot announced by Ministry of Justice

The “in” there is a little redundant isn’t it? Also maybe the “new”?

34 thoughts on “Bit odd”

  1. Prison policy seems to be our generation’s version of that Keynsian idea of paying people to dig holes and fill them in again. More prisons will just lead to more prisoners. Meanwhile what goes on in these prisons? They seem to be more squalid versions of the refugee camp at Sangatte. What is the point of it all?

  2. @Diogenes
    “More prisons will just lead to more prisoners”

    Really? I’m not convinced that justice is a supply-side led industry.

  3. Its probably just a ruse to put a big fence round Port Talbot (or Port Toilet as the locals call it) without anyone noticing.

  4. Really? I’m not convinced that justice is a supply-side led industry.

    I would say it depends:

    If the prison capacity is way smaller than the number of convicts that should be residing there, then creating more spaces will lead to more prisoners. I would hope anyway.

    If the prison capacity is equal to or greater than the number of murderers, rapists, thieves, muggers, conmen, politicians, etc then increasing the number of spaces shouldn’t necessarily lead to more prisoners.

  5. Just look at the stats


    1900-01 17,435

    1911-12 19,797 (1910-11 figure not available)

    1920-21 11,000 (strict alcohol licensing laws, abolished by Thatcher govt 1985-6, introduced 1915)

    1930-31 11,346

    1940-41 9,377

    1950-51 20,474

    1960-61 27,099

    1970 39,028

    1980 42,300

    1990 45,636

    1999 64,770

    Is now about 85000. It seems to double every 30 years. Do we feel safer as a result of the ever increasing number of inmates?

  6. Monoi, in 1980 population of England was 46m and in 2015 55m. So 20 % or so increase while prison population doubled.

    Jim, I have no idea and even less interest in trying to find an answer. I am not even interested in a split by gender, sexual identity, income decile etc. If you are interested, try the Home Office website

  7. Come to think of it, if you want to reduce the size of the crime problem introduce castration as a punishment for serious crimes. It would be a double whammy: reduced testosterone would lead to less crime now, and the absence of criminals’ offspring would reduce crime later.

  8. dearieme,

    Fine in theory – but most crims seem to get caught after they have kids, not before. At least that’s the impression I get from reading the headlines.

    A more effective solution might be to identify low-level crims at a young age and sign them up to military service for a decade, until they calm down.

  9. How about this line of reasoning. The police and courts are desperate to massage the crime statistics. Practically no one gets a prison sentence for a first offence. Then there will be a series of unrecorded warnings, recorded cautions, penalty notices, ‘restorative justice’ attempts and other Penal Episodes Not Involving Sanctions. After that perhaps some probation and ‘community service’ . Then a suspended sentence or two. Then two or three ‘last chances’ from magistrates or judges.

    The problem is that the front-end supply of crims is enormous and much greater than the capacity of the prison system.

    The court statistics show that around 10,000 cases are committed for sentencing every quarter. Even if only a fraction result in a custodial sentence, you soon run out of prison capacity. If you build more prisons, judges will just send more of the crims there rather than go down the route of warnings, suspended sentences, community work etc. How long will it take for any new prison to be filled? Six months? A year?

  10. For context,If you are interested, there is an official report on Proven Reoffending rates:

    The overall proven reoffending rate was 25.3%.

    There are about 500,000 reoffenders every year. Over 40% of them have 11 or more previous offences on their records.

    How many prisons do we need or should we try to take measures to deal with the supply-side?

  11. Don’t know about re-offending, but there is a lot of re-posting going on in this thread.

    Another idea is of course to reduce the number of crimes. Repeal drug prohibition for instance. As far as I can see we’re going the other way at the moment.

    On the supply side if George Osbourne’s proposal to not pay benefits for more than two children is still going ahead, it would certainly cancel out all the other nonsense he was responsible for.

  12. Diogenes, the warnings, last chance suspended sentences and so on already prevail.

    One thing about the prison population that has not been noted here is that it’s often highly transient. A custodial sentence of, say, 28 months actually means about eight months inside. So Ahmed Scrote is released early on HDC and licence, reoffends during the currency of the primary sentence, gets sent back inside (assuming he is caught) for what may or may not be the rest of the term.

    Result? Another offence that could not have been committed had he not been released early and another blow struck for the argument that prison does not work – because although most people understand that the nominal amount of the sentence is not what is actually served, most people equally do not realise just how corrupted it is, just how many offences are committed that, had the nominal sentence been served, literally could not have been committed.

  13. “How many prisons do we need or should we try to take measures to deal with the supply-side?”

    9mm is cheap.

  14. @bobrocket +1 for locating the figures. However, the overall story is not so different from what I managed to piece together. Which is good in view of the disbelief with which my conclusions were greeted. A story that needs investigating though is the recent upsurge in female prisoners. Is prison once again being used as a mental hospital facility?

  15. Diogenes,

    this is from the Graun (so take salt liberally),

    there are still less than 4000 women prisoners compared to more than 80,000 men.

    Either men are intrinsically criminally minded or someone didn’t get the equality memo 🙂

    Overall the prison population is peaking and should start to fall as the old recidivists die out. (unless idiot Governments manage to criminalise the rest of us first)

  16. Thanks, the fact that about 200,000 men are arrested every year with more than 11 previous offences on their records was something that shocked me. If prison capacity is 80,000,then you can only give them 3 months at a stretch. The alternative is to ship them to an Amazon warehouse, guantanamo, or somewhere. I guess you could commandeer a town, as the Nazis did with Theresienburg, but for some reason the people of Sevenoaks refuse to be relocated.

  17. ‘the fact that about 200,000 men are arrested every year with more than 11 previous offences on their records’

    Isn’t that just rounding up ‘the usual suspects’ to ‘solve’ the required number of cases when it is reporting season.
    You get arrested as a matter of course these days even if they just want to talk to you.

    As Ian Reid pointed out, liberalising the drug laws (Legitimise and Regulate) would cut the amount and costs of crime massively.

  18. Prison works! If criminals are behind bars, they can’t commit crimes.

    Sentences like castration, being irreversible, could reduce conviction rates because juries would probably be less likely to convict.

    We might, however, make sterilisation of unskilled non-white immigrants mandatory. It would reduce undesirable immigration at a stroke.

  19. Theo,

    ‘If criminals are behind bars, they can’t commit crimes’

    not strictly true –

    We could ship them off to a far flung land like we used to but that doesn’t seem to work either because there are always more (it’s like there is some kind of Judicial/Industrial Complex creating ever more criminals to profit by) and what is worse, the countries we used to ship them to (US and Australia) are richer than us now.

    We could do nothing and wait for 20 years, crime will fall and the Government of the day will claim the credit despite all the evidence of different policies having very little effect on offending rates. (it’s a demographic thing)

  20. Not strictly true? No, not strictly. Scrote can still pummel Badgerface, even on the inside.

    What he can’t do is burgle you.

    Look, criminals often have perfectly reasonable mitigation. Assuming what’s said on their behalf is true. And there’s usually no way substantially of verifying it. But anyway. People do stupid and harmful stuff. Sometimes they are as much, or even more, to be pitied than censured.

    But while all of that’s going on, how are the rest of us, infinitely more blameless, to be protected?

  21. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I’ve long been of the opinion (and have argued to that effect in this forum) that the sole rational function served by prison is incapacitation. Retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence: I don’t really care about that. And I also don’t really care if conditions inside are more like a Centre Parcs or the Château d’If. If the scrotes are banged up they are not out nicking things or lamping people. I’d have an exponential tariff so that to have committed 30 offences you’d have needed to start your criminal escapades some time in the Carboniferous Era.

  22. Mr Lud,

    How are the rest of us to be protected ?

    You could give up some of your freedoms, that’s always worked well in the past hasn’t it.

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