It takes real political gall to come up with this crap right at the very time you are fully complicit in destroying the Probation Service that would be able to deliver these aspirations of lowering the prison population. Well it won't wash Mr Hughes. It won't wash with us, the electorate and certainly not the Daily Mail and it just makes you look even more mendacious than normal:-
Scrap jail sentences of under one year, says Lib Dem justice minister
Jail sentences of less than a year should be abolished unless there are exceptional circumstances, a Liberal Democrat justice minister declared last night. Simon Hughes said there should be a legal presumption that no one goes to jail for less than 12 months, with criminals given community or suspended sentences instead.
But figures show such a move would mean 60,000 fewer criminals going to prison every year, including thousands of violent thugs, burglars, sex attackers and robbers. Over time it would lead to the halving of the current prison population of nearly 85,000, leaving tens of thousands of repeat criminals on the streets instead of behind bars.
Campaigners against soft justice pointed out that most of those given short prison terms had already been ‘let off’ with several non-custodial sentences. Victims groups say short prison sentences are essential to give them some respite from those making their lives a misery. Mr Hughes set out his views in a speech to prison reform campaigners.
He boasted in his speech about how his party had tamed the Conservatives in government by reducing the use of remand – ensuring more offenders are free on bail ahead of their trial. He also said Lib Dems had abolished the use of indeterminate prison sentences which allowed the most dangerous criminals to be locked up indefinitely because of the threat they posed to the public. And he said the Lib Dems had blocked Tory plans to double the maximum prison sentence which could be handed down in a magistrates’ court.
Mr Hughes said: ‘I believe that it is time for a statutory presumption against custodial sentences of under 12 months. 'And, where a court decides that there is a justification for their use, they must have to set out the exceptional circumstances which warranted the sentence.’
‘Instead, we need alternative, more effective ways to punish those who break the law in the community.’ He added: ‘This is not about soft options.’ ‘Forcing someone to confront their behaviour – and, where appropriate, make amends to those directly affected by their offending – can be tougher than languishing in a prison cell for days on end.’
Mr Hughes also challenged the Tory doctrine that ‘prison works’, first set out by then Tory Home Secretary Michael Howard in 1993. Since then, the prison population has increased from about 44,000 in the early 1990s to some 85,000 now. Tories point out that in the same period crime levels in Britain have plummeted.
An analysis of official sentencing figures carried out by the Mail shows what offences were committed by those who were jailed for less than a year over a five year period from 2009 to 2013. In 2013, some 59,322 offenders were given a jail term of less than 12 months. Over the five years from 2009 to 2013 that included a total of 2610 robbers, 8244 thieves, 12,572 violent thugs and 9252 burglars. It also included 1129 sex offenders convicted of assaults – the vast majority on women. Some 6566 thugs caught with a knife would also have escaped jail, as would some stalkers, kidnappers, and drug traffickers.
A Conservative source said: ‘Going soft on crime isn’t the way to sort out re-offending. ‘Letting criminals get away with not going to prison seems to be the Lib Dems’ latest wheeze which we don’t for a moment think is what the vast majority of the public want to see.’
Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention think tank said: ‘It is incredibly rare for anyone to go to prison without first committing many, many serious offences. ‘Sending far fewer of these serious, repeat offenders to prison would be an extremely dangerous experiment with public safety.’
‘The evidence is very clear. Short prison sentences have high re-offending rates, but so do people on community sentences and suspended sentences. ‘So the only sensible way to cut short prison sentences is to give criminals longer sentences. It’s once a criminal is in prison for two years or longer that we really see re-offending drop - and the public is completely protected in the mean time.’(Mendacious - lying, untruthful, dishonest, deceitful, false, dissembling, insincere, disingenuous, hypocritical, fraudulent, double-dealing, two-faced, Janus-faced, two-timing, duplicitous, perjured, perfidious; untrue, fictitious, falsified, fabricated, fallacious, invented, made up, hollow; economical with the truth, terminologically inexact; unveracious.