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Easy to sound tough on crime

When it comes to crime in politics, it is easy enough to sound tough.  The honest answers usually seem 'soft'.  So, come general elections we expect to hear a tough talk on crime.

Tony Blair found a beautiful message in 1997: "Tough on crime; touch on the causes of crime."  It encapsulated the need to tackle crime at its roots, rather than simply deliver tough sentences.

It is perhaps inevitable that crime, once again,  hits centre stage with London Bridge Terrorist attack.  Here was a man, a convicted terrorist,  who had been released early.   The Tories seized the moment to lay blame on Labour and the Criminal Justice Act, 2003.  This, they said, set in train the early release process that led to the release of .....

It is a diversionary tactic from the scrutiny of a justice system and policing struggling through underfunding for nearly a decade of Tory rule.

Boris Johnson bottled out of the proposed interview with Andrew Neil on BBC television. Still, when he finally appeared this Sunday on the Andrew Marr, he blamed everyone else for almost everything the Tory government did during their decade in office.   It was all the fault of the previous Labour government.  He also appeared to disown his own party by saying he hadn't supported austerity.

Boris Johnson now says we need harsher sentencing.  This is odd because the 2003 Act provided for just that: harsher sentences.

As for the early release scheme, the Tories had a decade of reviews to change it.  What they did do was speed the process up.   Furthermore, the programme remains a central feature of the Justice Department's planning.

The plan published by the  Justice Department on their Website makes this clear. 

"5.2 Reduce the use of prison and increase the use of community and alternative sentences
How we will achieve this
Develop options for restricting the use of short custodial sentences
Implement a new Release on Temporary Licence policy framework
Consider ways to increase the use of non-custodial sanctions"
So, there it is.  While the last Labour government played a significant part in setting up the early release process, the Tories extended its use.  Now, of course, no doubt it will be abolished.   


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