The National Audit Office found that re-offending by criminals cost the UK up to £10bn a year. Short term prison sentences were found not to work as there was little rehabilitation or effort to correct criminals behaviour. The report and views of a former inmate argued for more rehabilitation and robust community sentences. Both proposals the Liberal Democrats support. Specific policy pledges are:
- Make prisoners work to pay compensation to victims – It is only fair that criminals pay for the damage they cause. We will make prisoners work and contribute from their prison wages to a compensation fund for victims. At the moment, prisons are just colleges of crime. Making prisoners work (as well as educating and training them) will give them the skills they need to ‘go straight’ when they are released.
- Justice in your neighbourhood – We will give people a direct say in how petty criminals and those who engage in anti-social behaviour are punished in their area. This will be achieved by the creation of Neighbourhood Justice Panels, like the one run by Liberal Democrats in Somerset where 95% of offenders have been turned away from further crimes.