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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ken Clarke and George Osborne playing the numbers game

Ken Clarke and George Osborne playing the numbers game

Alan Travis and Afua Hirsch for the Guardian reports

Kenneth Clarke pledges to cut daily prison population

Justice secretary says planned sentencing reforms and 'rehabilitation revolution' will 'stem unsustainable rise in UK prison population'

It has to be said that Alan Travis and Afua Hirsch don't know what they are writing about, or simply they are engaged in lazy journalism.

"The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, today made an unexpected pledge to cut the record 85,000 daily prison population in England and Wales by 3,000 within four years".

A quick glance at the statistics shows that the prison population increases by more over 4 years than the planned reduction of 3,000. The Courts dictate the size of the prison population going into prison. Clarke only has the power to reduce the existing prison population by authorising releases. In 4 years it will rise by 20,000, so a 3,000 reduction will have little or no effect overall.

Labour had planned to provide "96,000 prison places in England and Wales by 2014. The chancellor, George Osborne, today said the programme had now been halved to £1.2bn over the next four years". So, halving that total still means a planned rise of 48,000. That is still more than doubling the expected 20,000 rise. Whichever figure is accepted, there is going to be no reduction by 3,000!

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