06/09/2011

Clarke To Make 'Radical Changes' After Riots

The Secretary of State has announced a number of "radical changes" to the justice system in response to the London riots that took place in August.

Outlining the changes in an editorial in Tuesday's Guardian, Ken Clarke said the riots had "shocked me to the core", adding that the hardcore of rioters came from a "feral underclass".

Mr Clarke said drew focus to the reduction of reoffending, saying that "punishment alone… is not enough". The Secretary of State said that locking people up without reducing the risk of them committing new crimes against new victims the minute they get out did not make for intelligent sentencing.

"I am introducing radical changes to focus our penal system relentlessly on proper, robust punishment and the reduction of reoffending. This means making our jails places of productive hard work, addressing the scandal of drugs being readily available in many of our prisons and toughening community sentences so that they command public respect."

One of the main ways Mr Clarke said he would achieve this would be by paying those who rehabilitate offenders, including the private and voluntary sectors, by the results they achieved and not for "processes" and "box-ticking".

Mr Clarke also said that the "hardcore" of the rioters were known criminals and that close to three-quarters of those aged 18 or over charged with riot offences already had a prior conviction.

"That is the legacy of a broken penal system – one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful."

"In my view, the riots can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes – individuals and families familiar with the justice system who haven't been changed by their past punishments."

The justice minister said reform should not stop at the penal system alone, and outlined what he thought was at the heart of the problem: "The general recipe for a productive member of society is no secret. It has not changed since I was inner cities minister 25 years ago.

"It's about having a job, a strong family, a decent education and, beneath it all, an attitude that shares in the values of mainstream society. What is different now is that a growing minority of people in our nation lack all of those things and, indeed, have substituted an inflated sense of expectation for a commitment to hard graft."

(DW/GK)

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