How right the Gazette is to identify the (at best) shabby ‘approach’ of one government after another to our ever-burgeoning prison population. In truth there is no approach; rather there is an abrogation of all responsibility.
Back in the early 1990s, whenever senior managers from all agencies and members of the judiciary foregathered, there was consensus that the then around 46,000 prisoners was far too many; and far too many of the wrong category. I know because in those days we used to be invited to strategic meetings and our experience and knowledge were respected, heeded and (sometimes) acted upon.
That was under senior civil servant Philippa Drew and home secretary Douglas Hurd. Then along came a tricky electoral cycle and back we went into denial of the truth staring governments of whichever hue in the face. The result: a population of around 86,000 rising at a minimum annual per-capita cost of £37,000.
One chief inspector of prisons after another has been speaking truth to power over this, with their ‘reward’ being non-renewal of their contracts.
Many of us are weary from waiting in vain for some administration, some time, to have a spasm of sanity, not to say courage.
By all means a Royal Commission, but would its findings be heeded? I for one shall not be holding my breath.
Malcolm Fowler, Dennings, Tipton