David: Those fellows running our Community Rehabilitation Companies have come to me complaining that they aren’t making enough money.
Michael: Can’t they get rid of more staff?
David: They say they have done that already, what they really want are more offenders to look after.
Michael: They can’t cope with the ones they currently have.
David: That’s not the point, we can’t have our friends not making enough money can we?
Michael: So they want more offenders then, where do you imagine they come from?
David: How about making being poor a criminal offence, there’s lots of them about now we have cut their benefits and taxed their bedrooms.
Michael: Good idea, but remember the austerity agenda, creating more offenders will cost money especially now I have rolled back Chris’s plans on Legal Aid, George will not be impressed.
David: So where do we get more offenders from?
Michael: We have about 80,000 in prison right now.
David: I know that but the CRCs can’t make money off them whilst they are in there.
Michael: If we released more early or avoided sending them to prison in the first place then the CRC’s can pick them up.
David: Ah but what about our friends in the press, they get awfully wound up about being ‘soft’ on crime.
Michael: The left wing press will lap this up and the right wing press are too distracted with the EU referendum to be bothered with this. An outrageous statement about the consequences of leaving the EU should keep them distracted.
David: You means like the comment I made about a ‘bunch of migrants’ to distract everyone from how little Google paid in tax.
David: Okay, so we have a plan, how about the details, how do we justify the reforms?
Michael: How about the high re-offending rate for short sentenced prisoners.
David: Didn’t we use that one when we reformed probation?
Michael: Yes, but I doubt anyone will notice, and if anyone does they will be too dumbfounded by how liberal we are being to argue. I think we need something stronger though.
David: What about saying how our prisons are full of drugs and violence and we want to fix them.
Michael: Good but using that as an argument could be tricky as it is our fault the prisons are in such a mess.
David: What do you mean?
Michael: I mean, we drastically cut staffing to match the private sector prisons so now we have thousands of offenders with few skills or mental health issues, sat in their cells for 23 hours a day with nothing to do but smoke ‘spice’ and wait for their release date.
David: Didn’t you say earlier that people will be too amazed to notice details like that.
Michael: I did.
David: Great we can dress this up using that idea you had for greater autonomy for Prison Governors; we can also demonstrate how sensible we are by announcing that we are going to pilot the changes too.
Michael: Err… the last time we used the re-offending stat as justification for breaking up probation. Didn’t we also say we couldn’t wait and didn’t need to pilot the reforms as gut instinct was all we needed?
David: Look, that was Chris’s gut and that worked out really well didn’t it. Besides we aren’t 18 months from a General Election we didn’t expect to win are we?
Michael: Agreed, so we have a plan, how’s about a catchy strap line for this announcement.
David: How about “Offenders are assets”
Michael: They most certainly are.