The announcement by the Secretary of State for Justice to undertake an evidence-based review of the benefit of custodial sentences of less than 6 months is to be welcomed.
The evidence points to fact that sending people to prison for a short-term custodial sentence acts as a college of crime. People who enter prison for minor offences may develop substance abuse problems, exacerbate mental health issues and connect them with hardened criminals.
I want to see a sensible sentencing policy put in place. One that takes into account the individual, their record on repeat offending and the risks they pose to communities. Prison will only work if it is used against people correctly. It fails when it trains a new generation of criminals who put our safety at risk.
Tonight I voted against the UK Government’s police grant report. It was promised by the Government that they would increase police funding for the next financial year by £450m but in reality the Home Office have used this report to slash local police funding by £100m. This is because the Home Office have put in place a cash-freeze in their funding. The only way for North Wales Police to reclaim that loss of income is by requesting an increase in your Council Tax.
The settlement comes in the context of increasing pressure on police forces following an overall reduction in spending since 2010 of over £2.8bn, resulting in a loss of 21,000 officers. For many police forces. particularly ones with low Council Tax bases such as ours, the amount raised by the precept will be effectively wiped out by the real-terms reduction in Home Office funding and broader inflationary pressure. Police Chiefs had warned the Home Office that a settlement which only covers inflation will mean police are unable to meet rising demands and “reverse the reduction in preventable activity.”
Only recently figures released showed that crime was rising in North Wales. Labour has pledged to hire an additional 10,000 police officers, 1,000 more security staff and 500 more boarder guards. Only buy giving the police the resources they need can we secure our neighbourhoods.