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.
At least that’s the verdict by the Economist who disagree with the notion that Britain is in a mess and getting worse.
I have spoken to many public sector and charity workers in Bromsgrove who deal with the people the Tories describe as part of the “Broken Society” and they don’t recognise the term. Sure the country isn’t perfect, but it’s not “broken” and if it was what are the Conservatives doing to help the few who need help the most?
Almost all their policies are aimed at the middle class voters. Marriage tax allowance; inheritance tax threshold increase; allowing parents to run schools (only those with time will do this) and focus on only imprisoning criminals.
The Lib Dems, however, are focusing on helping those most in need to create a better society for all:
- Increase income tax threshold to £10k to help break the poverty trap and improve the incentives for individuals on low incomes
- Extra £2.5bn in education for schools with pupils on free school meals. This resource can be used as headteachers deem appropriate, whether smaller classes or one on one tuition. Many classes can only proceed as the slowest pupil so this will benefit all pupils.
- Scrap tuition fees, to break the psychological barrier of debt for many people going to university. There is enough student debt and c. £10k less would make a big difference to many future graduates
- 67% of prisoners will re-offend when they are released, why? Because some have no alternative of employment, they may be illiterate, don’t know what to do. We would do more for rehabilitation and give these people skills and the ability to become a part of society.