Wednesday 9th November
Further to Michael Gove's meeting last Saturday, with the assembled company of local Tory councillors, I had another opportunity to catch up with Michael on Tuesday during a luncheon meeting of the 'Stranger's Gallery'.
'Stranger's Gallery' is a luncheon society for local, Surrey Heath business people and provides a forum to discuss the effects politics has on local businesses. On this occasion, the guest speaker was Dominic Grieve QC MP, who like Michael is a shadow cabinet member, but shadows the Ministry of Justice.
Dominic Grieve is clearly a capable and eloquent man and I came away feeling sure that Dominic had a clear grip on that portfolio. I managed to get a question in in that regard on the subject of prisons. 'With particular reference to knife crime", I asked, "was it time for a return to 'Stop and Search, longer sentences and if necessary, more prisons?".
Dominic had addressed the idea of more prisons in his opening address and had eschewed the idea of continuing the exsiting policy of 'banging-up more and more offenders' - The prison population has almost doubled since 1997, with little effect on whether people felt safe or not.
But his answer was music to my ears. In addition to further debate on sentencing with the judiciary, he pointed towards a future policy that encouraged targeted S&S campaigns to deal with the symptons, but with a programme of re-education to deal with some of the root causes that link continued crime with a particular demographic. With regret, he concluded that this sort of solution was generational and that prison populations would probably increase in the short term, but that the goal was to reduce the prison population at the same time as making the public 'feel safer'.
Overall, I tend to agree that prison is not the ultimate answer, but I do completely agree that persons in prison do not commit crime at large. If you are in a cell, you can't batter old ladies for their pension books. I would, however, like to see Dominic take control of the ministry in order to set up soem of his patently common-sense ideas.
Roll on the Spring, I say.