Richard Enderby is a TopOfTheCops reader from Lincolnshire. He gives his perspective here on an issue he would like candidates to address – the relative costs of community sentences and imprisonment. If you would like your perspective on this or another relevant subject considered for publication, drop a line to Editor@TopOfTheCops.com
Candidates for the new Police Commissioner posts must initially be judged by what they say they intend doing in relation to actual policing in their county, and ultimately judged on whether they succeed, or it has been “Rhetoric” to quote the current buzz word. We must not let them detract from that, and saying they support being “Soft on crime” will ensure they do not get my vote.
However many prospective candidates have sidelined us into their views on such things as “Rehabilitation” “Community sentencing” etc, at the expense of policing, partnership working with the Chief Constable, and supporting their police force where necessary. Although outside their new domain, they are singing the virtues of such “Soft” alternatives, rather than leaning towards “Zero tolerance.” Although a lower level issue zero tolerance on the wearing of seatbelts certainly worked in Lincs.
They are entitled to their opinions, and I trust the voters will take note. Furthermore their mantra usually stresses how much it costs to keep someone in prison. To me the cost is “What it takes” for many criminals and crimes, and it is impossible for them to argue against the fact that when someone is in prison they are hopefully not committing crimes. I would add I am not against rehabilitation in many instances, especially for first offenders – Total rejection would be stupid!
Whilst the cost of keeping someone in prison is important, and is far too expensive in my humble opinion, I have never seen them quoting the cost of keeping criminals out of jail, under some other “Soft sentence.”
There must be a huge cost in administration, bureaucracy, supervision, police time, benefit payments, etc in keeping someone under such schemes as “Community Sentences” – Not forgetting the capital cost of tags, monitoring equipment, etc, together with the cost to their victims, in both cash, stress, fairness, etc. To add to everything else is the so called “Fear factor” of people, many of them old and vulnerable, because they know the criminal is at large in their community.
There must be many more costs that I haven’t even thought of yet….and as we know from recent reports, the success rate is extremely low.
Work needs to be done in accurately quantifying these costs to redress the balance, and people must at least recognise the scales tip both ways.