CPS to receive £85 million in extra funding
Over the next two years, the Crown Prosecution Service will be provided with an additional £85 million of funding in a new crackdown on violent crime in England and Wales.
The government has said that the extra funds will go toward helping staff respond more quickly and efficiently to incidents of violent crime and back up their cause by providing “an explosion of digital evidence”.
New prime minister Boris Johnson has already pledged to provide 20,000 new police officers and expanded stop and search powers.
On Sunday, the prime minister promised a further 10,000 new spaces in UK prisons to hold more offenders, with a review into the sentences handed to dangerous criminals also forthcoming.
Johnson has said that punishments for criminals posing a danger to the public must “fit the crime” and emphasised the need to remove offenders from the streets.
On announcing the sentencing review, the prime minister said: "We have all seen examples of rapists and murderers let out too soon or people offending again as soon as they're released. This ends now.
“We want them caught, locked up, punished and properly rehabilitated.”
The review will determine whether offenders guilty of violent or sexual crimes are serving appropriate sentences with the concluding report scheduled for the autumn.
The purpose of the review is to root out more dangerous criminals who have not been handed an extended sentence and are therefore released on parole while still posing a threat to society according to justice secretary Robert Buckland.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four, Buckland said: “The prime minister wants to see prison being used appropriately to protect the public. But sentencing decisions should still be based on individual circumstances, not ‘targets or numbers’”.
Reaction from the Crown Prosecution Service has been positive, however, a spokesperson warned on its behalf that the extra funding pledge is only a “modest first step” toward solving issues with underfunding.
Criminal Bar Association chair Chris Henley, has suggested that there will not be a quick fix to the impact of ten years of cuts.
Henley said: “The criminal justice system is severely underfunded, as a result of relentless cuts over the last 10 years.”
Henley believes more funding is required for the courts and prosecution system to “restore public faith” and stop criminals from “walking free” too easily.
This crackdown on crime is yet another spending commitment already laid on the table by the new government since Johnson was named Conservative leader, but Downing Street has moved to quell speculation that it is laying down the gauntlet for an early general election.
However, Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has taken aim at Johnson’s latest spending pledge, calling it a blatant measure to “clear the ground” for an election.
Abbott said: "Anyone can promise tens of thousands of police officers, if you're not saying exactly how you're going to fund it. There's been a whole series of these promises and Boris [Johnson] doesn't explain how he will pay for it."
Reaction from other opposition parties to the news is also sceptical, with Lib Dem justice spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse saying longer sentences would lead to overcrowding in prisons and “waste millions of pounds”.
Hobhouse said: “For years, Labour and Tory ministers have made sentences longer and longer, without any evidence that they prevent crime. It may sound tough, but it hasn't made our communities any safer.”
The possibility of early release from prison for good behaviour is widely regarded as a deterrent to criminals who wish to incite disorder in prison. However, 2018 saw a record number of assaults take place against prison staff and an increase in prison inmates inflicting self-harm.
Sir David Latham, who formerly served on the Parole Board for England and Wales as judge and chairman, believes that closer monitoring of offenders after release and enhanced probation services would help solve the problem as opposed to tougher sentences.
Speaking to the BBC, Latham said: "Prisons are significantly overcrowded and the risks of violence in prisons have increased very substantially over the last few years.
"The essence of early release is that there should be proper control over that prisoner. Sentencing has in fact increased over the last 20 to 30 years quite substantially.”