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Chief Bakes

BBC: PM to create 10,000 new prison places and boosts stop and search

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Chief Bakes

PM to create 10,000 new prison places and boosts stop and search

  • 11 August 2019
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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHome Secretary Priti Patel: "Stop and search works."

An extra 10,000 new prison places will be created and stop and search powers expanded, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson said after a "spate of violent crime... the time for action had come".

He also said tougher sentencing laws were needed.

Labour's shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said increasing stop and search was a "tried and tested recipe for unrest".

The government's focus on law and order will add to speculation that No 10 is preparing for an autumn general election, said BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake.

It follows other recent announcements from Downing Street about the NHS and immigration.

Last month, the government also pledged to recruit 20,000 extra police officers, nearly replacing the number of officers lost since the Conservatives returned to power.

Police officers in England and Wales

Figures for 31 March each year

Source: Home Office

What are the plans for prisons?

The 10,000 new prison places are expected to be created by building new jails and expanding existing ones, at a cost of up to £2.5bn.

The money has already been approved by the Treasury, with Mr Johnson calling the investment "long overdue".

He also argued that too many serious violent or sexual offenders are coming out of prison long before they should, and tougher sentences were needed.

"We need to come down hard on crime," he wrote. "That means coming down hard on criminals. We need to reverse the balance of fear.

"I want the criminals to be afraid - not the public."

How is stop and search changing?

A pilot scheme making it easier for police to search people without reasonable suspicion, in places where serious violence may occur, is being extended to all 43 forces across England and Wales.

The scheme was first introduced in seven police force areas in March by Sajid Javid, when he was home secretary.

The move lifts restrictions over using section 60 stop and search, which allows officers a limited time period to search anyone in a designated area in order to prevent violent crime.

Inspectors will now be able to use section 60 without seeking the authorisation of a senior officer and there will be a lower threshold for its use, with police only needing to reasonably believe that violence "may" occur, not that it will.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Stop and search works. We hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered."

She said powers needed to be used in the "right, legal and professional way" but they were supported by families of victims of knife crime, from "communities that have suffered so much trauma and pain".

The announcement comes days after a police officer was stabbed in the head with a machete in east London.

Why are some people concerned about stop and search?

Stop and search powers have been controversial for many years, with evidence that they are sometimes misused and that they disproportionately target black people.

In 2017-18, black people were 9.5 times more likely to be searched than white people, a gap which has grown in recent years.

Jonathan Hinds, who campaigns against its misuse, told BBC Radio 5 Live he had been stopped three times within a mile by three different police officers.

He warned black people faced being "targeted by these draconian powers".

Image caption London was one of seven areas where the stop and search pilot scheme was initially trialled

Elena Noel, co-chair of Southwark's anti-knife crime forum, said action was needed to halt the "crisis" but "independent data does not show that stop and search stops knife crime and violence".

A study of stop and search over a decade in London by the College of Policing found it to be "inconsistent" and "weak" as a deterrent.

Labour accused the Conservatives of trying to "appear tough" instead of dealing with the root causes of crime.

Ms Abbott said extending stop and search powers during the summer was a "tried and tested recipe for unrest - not violence reduction".

What are the police saying?

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents police officers, said it welcomed forces across the country being given the same tools to tackle knife crime.

John Apter, the federation's national chairman, said: "We can't have a postcode lottery on keeping the public safe."

"We are in the grip of a wave of violent crime on a scale we've not seen before, with young people being killed or stabbed on our streets, and we have to do something about it," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionYouth mentor Dijon Joseph and Ch Supt Simon Messinger discuss stop and search

He acknowledged concerns about stop and search and said police officers would be as professional as possible, with many wearing body cameras.

But he said they also had to respond to people who could be "incredibly hostile, aggressive and violent".

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skydiver

Its groundhog day.  Its as if the last 10 years of austerity by and large didn't happen. Its as if the Tories weren't responsible for  cuts across every department and  ministry in the country.  The Tories have found a magic money tree to pay for new prisons, new prison officers and more police in a rush to return us to where we were 10 years ago, although that doesn't seem to include our pensions and the pay we have lost during that period.  They are also giving us 'extended powers' for stop and search but even those are just a return to what we had before a certain Ms May changed the rules.   It just goes to show that yet again there is no long term plan for the police.

One striking omission from the benefits of the new money tree is the CPS as there have been no announcements for new funding in that area to help reverse the cuts they have suffered.  

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SimonT

I would like to see a bit of cash coming in to maybe try and prevent young people turning to crime in the first place. But call me a wishy washy Liberal, maybe spending a bit of money up front on social care would be an idea. Rather than spend it on keeping people in prison and releasing them as a problem unsolved.

Probably not a vote winner 

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Zulu 22

The whole package is a good idea and a step in the right direction, however, someone would have to tell the Judiciary that harsher sentences must be given out for the carrying of weapons and any offences involving violence. There has to be a deterrent element by the use of sentences but it also has to some form of increase in  education and training within the Prison service. That element is already present but, like us, the Prison Service have been hit by cuts in finance and numbers.

Many of the present Youth Offending teams, in place, are simply not fit for purpose. What everybody forgets are the victims who come a second best to the offenders. The term "Wishy Washy Liberal Brigade" is not there to give a blanket support to the offenders but should give more thought, and support, to the victims of crime.

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skydiver
23 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

The whole package is a good idea and a step in the right direction, however, someone would have to tell the Judiciary that harsher sentences must be given out for the carrying of weapons and any offences involving violence.

New prisons will take at least 5 years to build if the last two new mega prisons are anything to go by although extensions to existing prisons could be built more quickly.  The CPS will also need a boost in budget and numbers because they are currently struggling to cope with their workload and that will take a long time given the level of training and experience they need to be able to do their jobs properly.

At the moment all we seem to be getting is a willy nilly approach without a joined up plan which will help all sectors of the CJS.  I don't have a lot of faith in what the Tories are doing although at least they have started to invest in the police again, but  they have pledged the numbers without asking the police how we  can recruit and train them as well as what we are going to do with them.  There are however worse problems to have.

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David

Before we get too critical, let's appreciate the fact that it's finally been realised that actually, we do need more prison places and that Stop and Search is a powerful weapon in the armoury - even if these are things some of us have been arguing for years.

On top of judges finally cracking down and sending people to these new prisons, perhaps it will also be realised that though prisons need to to be warm, clean and safe (including free from bullying from any quarter), they need to be austere places and not the cells equipped with telephones and games consoles that some want.

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Reasonable Man

Am I the only one getting confused over all this law and order Tory/tough on crime rhetoric? 

We already have the highest prison population in the EU - third highest in Europe for the Brexiteers. Johnson is providing 20,000 extra police officers, increasing spending on CPS and has promised to drive crime down. 

So loads of money and resources into reducing crime so why do we need more prison spaces? 

Seems to me they don’t really think that extra police will reduce crime. 

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Zulu 22

Boris is not providing 20,000 extra officers. He is just trying to replace the 20,000 who were scrapped by his predecessor. Neither is he giving the CPS £75 million as, again, his predecessor reduced the CPS expenditure by £100 million.

An excellent way of reducing crime is by Prison sentences. We had a prolific burglar who was very successful for 5 years. He received a long prison term and, guess what, the numbers of Burglaries dropped to zero. That was an excellent crime prevention.

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Hyphen
8 hours ago, Reasonable Man said:

Am I the only one getting confused over all this law and order Tory/tough on crime rhetoric? 

We already have the highest prison population in the EU - third highest in Europe for the Brexiteers. Johnson is providing 20,000 extra police officers, increasing spending on CPS and has promised to drive crime down. 

So loads of money and resources into reducing crime so why do we need more prison spaces? 

Seems to me they don’t really think that extra police will reduce crime. 

The only way to deal with the most prolific offenders is to give severe and robust custodial sentences. Also, this also has a desirable effect in terms of a deterrent. 

Messing around with short sentences which are far too lenient make a mockery of the justice system but do waste money and resources within prisons.

The hysterical do gooder approach to crime and disorder must stop.

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Reasonable Man
29 minutes ago, Hyphen said:

The only way to deal with the most prolific offenders is to give severe and robust custodial sentences. Also, this also has a desirable effect in terms of a deterrent. 

Messing around with short sentences which are far too lenient make a mockery of the justice system but do waste money and resources within prisons.

The hysterical do gooder approach to crime and disorder must stop.

That’s fine as an argument. You haven’t answered my point about the dichotomy between how the Tories are going to drive down Crime and yet still require more prison spaces. 

The perfect result of the Tories approach will be zero crime. So who will they be sending to prison? 

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Sceptre
20 hours ago, Reasonable Man said:

That’s fine as an argument. You haven’t answered my point about the dichotomy between how the Tories are going to drive down Crime and yet still require more prison spaces. 

The perfect result of the Tories approach will be zero crime. So who will they be sending to prison? 

Well, if people aren't going to be released so early then one would've thought the population will rise and so extra spaces will be necessary. If nothing else it's high time we built some modern prisons with a view to decommissioning a few old squalid Victorian ones anyway. 

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