Once again, our free and fearless press has been had for mugs by unprincipled and dishonest politicians and their hangers-on: they obediently told us at the weekend that their man, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, would be tough on crime and its causes, recruiting 20,000 more Police officers and creating 10,000 new prison places. It was a grotesque sham. Yet the hacks fell for it.
A complete Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
But, you might ask, how can a straight no-nonsense unequivocal commitment to these numbers be a con? Let’s start with the dead giveaway that should have had the press coming down on the Tories like the proverbial tonne of bricks.
As I pointed out yesterday, the courts can’t deal with the case load they have now. Sky News Midlands correspondent Becky Johnson underscored that today: “Sitting in Birmingham Magistrates court this morning it’s tricky to see how all those extra prison places being created will be filled. It’s chaos - delay after delay. At first no one was even certain which cases were being dealt with in which court”.
Now, remember those 10,000 new prison places? This is not a new announcement. It’s been Tory policy for years. This from the Guardian in October 2017: Michael Gove made a high profile pledge when he was justice secretary to close ‘ageing and ineffective’ Victorian inner city jails. The revival of longterm ‘new for old’ plans was enshrined in the latest Tory manifesto … replacing the most dilapidated prisons and creating 10,000 modern prison places”. Modern. Not new. Old jails close. New ones open.
Now that 10,000 figure is being exhumed. However, as the BBC has reported, “a spokesman for the Prison Reform Trust said the suggestion that all 10,000 places were new was ‘misleading’ given earlier announcements … The trust said prisons needed 12,000 more places just to eliminate overcrowding and accommodate new prisoners who have already been sentenced”. And it gets worse.
What about all the new prison staff? Like the lack of news about how more court cases are to be processed, there is no news on the extra prison staff that will be needed. Because this is just an off-the-cuff electioneering gimmick. No extra staff, no extra places.
Worst of all, the 20,000 new Police officers are the biggest con of all. Both Bozo The Clown and supposed Home Secretary Priti Patel have said that the 20,000 will be recruited over the next three years. But what they haven’t told the voters is that, assuming leaver rates are similar to those in 2015, around 7% of Police officers will depart their forces every year. That’s a total of approximately 8,500 a year.
So 20,000 could be recruited in the next three years and still leave a shortage of over 5,000 officers. The clue is in another BBC report: “Newly-appointed policing minister Kit Malthouse said the plans would cost around £500m in the first year, but said ‘we still have to work out the exact number’”. Because there is no actual policy.
The 10,000 prison places will be needed anyway, and most likely won’t include any new ones. 20,000 more cops in 3 years won’t replace those leaving the job. It’s a con trick.
And almost all the hacks in Fleet Street missed it. Or perhaps they weren’t looking.
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