A thing I keep saying is, what the criminal justice system does, doesn't affect the level of crime much, or perhaps not at all. Which means that most of what politicians say or do on crime is nonsense.
This graph might help show why. It plots crime v convictions/cautions over half a century. The figures are taken from 'Criminal Statistics 20001, and are dodgy in various ways, most notably that they were read off a graph since (grrr!) the statisticians published a graph without publishing the data which generated it (that's a hanging offence, BTW). But for illustrative purposes it'll do.
Now, your Tory will say, OK, all the more reason to put in enough police and CPS and courts and prisons to move that orange line much closer to the blue line.
1. Since 2000, the blue line has not risen (a fact incompatible with the idea that the work of the CJS affects crime rates)
2. Since 1995 we have used a much more accurate measure of the amount of crime than police stats, known and documented (by the Inspector of Constabulary) to be ropey to say the least, , by asking the people every year how much crime they have experienced and they say, the people of this country say, the voters say, crime has more than halved since 1995 (as above, but even more so)
3. bringing blue and orange lines together would require about a ten fold increase in spending on the police, courts, prisons, something even the new high tax, high spending Tory party might have a problem with. 1,000 new prisons....mm.
But funnily enough, I do have ideas on what to do to bring crime levels down. (TBC)
On re-reading this, see I was wrong to single out the Tories for criticism. The only Ministers ever to state clearly that we use too much imprisonment, to manage the prison population down as an aim of policy and to close prisons as a result, were Tories. It took courage and in the case of Ken Clarke, made him a non person in his own party. No Labour Minister has ever shown that courage. Indeed the fastest ever increase in prison numbers was under Jack Straw, Labour opened prisons at a faster rate than before or since and even now, Labour is engaged in a bidding war with the Tories to force up sentences even beyond what they proposed. Labour's record is ever bit as shameful as the Tories, but a lot more disappointing.
I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
Click below to receive regular updates