Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

No reprieve for Dave if his new prisoner policy doesn't work

Part of Dave Cameron's new Arnie Schwarzenegger approach to crime involves an ambitious "payment-by-results" scheme where private companies will be employed to rehabilitate offenders on what our friends in the legal industry would describe as a no win-no fee basis.

This should be interesting.

Particularly since among names mentioned as potential probation officer replacement material is G4S, the firm which took gold for chaos in the run-up to the Olympics.

On that occasion the Army had to be called in to sort the mess.

But with recent cuts to the military announced by Dave himself, the option for the armed forces to take up the slack should private companies fail would appear to be somewhat limited for future reference.

And anyway, assuming the work is contracted out to the private sector, who judges when an offender is actually rehabilitated? Will the companies be expected to wait a couple of years before collecting payment in case chummy re-offends in the interim?

Or will they just have to pay money back if one of their graduates goes back to his or her old ways?

It smacks a bit of the privatisation of restorative justice which will doubtless be of interest to many here.

More to the point though, it also smacks of desperate hard man posturing by a PM who appears to have lost the plot within his own party and now wants to be associated with something - anything! - which doesn't involve toffs or U-turns.

It's not just the prisoners, you suspect, that Dave's scheme may be aimed at helping.

Dave himself could be doing with a get-out-of-jail card right now.

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