Bit oddMarch 22, 2017 Tim WorstallThe English34 CommentsNew prison in Port Talbot announced by Ministry of Justice The “in” there is a little redundant isn’t it? Also maybe the “new”? previousIsn’t this interestingnextToday’s menu includes half-baked Spud 34 thoughts on “Bit odd” Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 10:17 am 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? John Square March 22, 2017 at 10:48 am @Diogenes “More prisons will just lead to more prisoners” Really? I’m not convinced that justice is a supply-side led industry. Jim March 22, 2017 at 10:55 am Its probably just a ruse to put a big fence round Port Talbot (or Port Toilet as the locals call it) without anyone noticing. Bloke in Wales March 22, 2017 at 10:57 am 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. Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 10:59 am Just look at the stats Wales 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? Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 11:12 am It should be England and Wales for the above figures monoi March 22, 2017 at 11:29 am @ Diogenes, Without a ratio to the population numbers, its pretty meaningless. Jim March 22, 2017 at 11:30 am @Diogenes: how many of those were either born outside the UK, or had one parent who was? Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 11:45 am 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 Gamecock March 22, 2017 at 12:15 pm I don’t think Parkinson’s Law applies to prisons. dearieme March 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm What other use is there for South Georgia? dearieme March 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm 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. Andrew M March 22, 2017 at 1:09 pm 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. Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm 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? Bloke in Wales March 22, 2017 at 2:16 pm Depends on the recidivism rate and the length of sentence. Bloke in Wales March 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm Depends on the recidivism rate and the length of sentences. Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 2:19 pm If you are interested, there is an official report on Proven Reoffending rates: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585908/proven-reoffending-quarterly-bulletin.pdf 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? Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm 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? Ian Reid March 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm 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. BobRocket March 22, 2017 at 4:36 pm The offending rate should start to fall in the next 20 years as lead in petrol was banned in the UK in 1998. http://www.ricknevin.com/ Edward Lud March 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm 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. Jim March 22, 2017 at 6:32 pm “How many prisons do we need or should we try to take measures to deal with the supply-side?” 9mm is cheap. BobRocket March 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm Prison Population Statistics briefing paper http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN04334/SN04334.pdf section 1.6 Age Profile of Prisoners half as many young people enter the prison system compared to 15 years ago. The big bulge in prisoners aged 30 to 39 corresponds to the explosion in car ownership in the UK when these people were born (lead poisoning in childhood increases future crime rates). Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm @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? BobRocket March 22, 2017 at 10:14 pm Diogenes, this is from the Graun (so take salt liberally), https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/24/vulnerable-uk-women-prison-mental-health 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) Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 10:29 pm 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. Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 10:30 pm Actually, Haywards Heath might be an option. I have been around and through it but there is no there. Diogenes March 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm It looks like the money supply equality Crimes*convictions =crims *velocity of recidivism BobRocket March 22, 2017 at 10:59 pm ‘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. Theophrastus March 22, 2017 at 11:11 pm 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. BobRocket March 22, 2017 at 11:47 pm Theo, ‘If criminals are behind bars, they can’t commit crimes’ not strictly true – http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Bromley%20Briefings/summer%202016%20briefing.pdf 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) Edward Lud March 23, 2017 at 12:21 am 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? Bloke in Costa Rica March 23, 2017 at 3:46 am 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. BobRocket March 23, 2017 at 8:34 am 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. Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.