Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Crime Control is Out of Control

This statement was issued by No More Prison during the General Election campaign in 2005.

Crime Control is Out of Control

Crime and punishment are key issues in the current election campaign. Politicians are grossly pre-occupied with trying to convince us, the voters, that they are 'harder', 'tougher' and more punitive in their responses to crime. More Crime Bills are promised, Bills that will create more crimes, harsher sentences and inevitably imprison more and more of our fellow citizens.

Crime and disorder are an obsession of the media who send out the message that 'crime is out of control', they devote endless column inches persuading us that we should all fear for our lives and never allow any constructive debate on the matter.

The reality is crime in Britain is not out of control. In fact we have more ways of controlling crime than any other Western European country. We imprison more people, including children, we have more CCTV, more laws, spend more money, have more police powers, implement more targets and legislate for more ways of controlling behaviour that is considered 'anti-social'.

In fact it is Crime Control that is out of control. The current Labour Government has created 618 new crimes many aimed at criminalising children. It has introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders targeted at the young, poor and powerless that are administered through the Civil Courts but have criminal consequences, including the very real possibility of a prison sentence. 90,000 men, women and children are in Britain's prisons. 2004 saw a record number of women in prison and a record number being killed, in HMP Holloway Prison Officers are cutting down up to 5 women hanging from ligatures in the cells every night.

We currently we send around 1,000 children a month to prison, many of them vulnerable and victims of abuse. Both the Conservative and Labour Party are committed to sending even more children to Prison. Prison is no place for a child and sending children to them is child abuse. Politicians appear unconcerned about the bullying and abuse that is rife in our children's prisons. They are also unconcerned about children like Gareth Myatt, a 15 year old boy killed by Prison Officers last year whilst being restrained at Rainsbrook Child Prison or Adam Rickwood, a 14 year old boy who was found hanged at Hassockfield Child Prison, the youngest person to ever die in custody.

As we elect a new government we call on politicians of all Parties to have the courage to tell the truth about crime and crime control. Locking up more men, women and children is not the answer. When we build a new prison we lose an opportunity to build more hospitals, schools and good quality affordable housing and it is access to these things that truly prevents crime.

We call on voters to reject the politics of fear and to back candidates who oppose prison building and support community based responses to law breaking, responses that respect the human rights of both the victim and the law breaker and focus on correcting the harm done not on retribution and pain.

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