The Government has just published its Prisons Strategy White Paper, outlining new plans which it claims will ‘protect the public and reform prisoners.’
The strategy leaves much to be desired. Among its far-fetched promises is the intention to create 20,000 new prison places by the mid-2020s, in what is dubbed, “the biggest prison building programme this country has seen in more than a hundred years”. 47% of prisons are currently considered overcrowded, and the Government is bringing in longer maximum sentences in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, so more spaces are needed.
I would prefer however, to see more focus on plans to divert people from the prison system. Currently far too many people end up in prison who should not be there. We need investment in better mental health provision, addiction services and early intervention for young offenders rather than simply expanding the prison estate to accommodate ever-growing numbers.
I asked the Minister about support for prisoners’ families, which she didn’t mention in her statement, and was pleased that she agreed to meet with me and the charity Children Heard and Seen.
Watch the clip here.