Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

27 JAN 2016

Treasure in the heart of every man, says MP

Steve Brine spoke in the Prisons and Probation debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 27th January, as he called for a significant reduction in the prison population.

The Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP, who has served as a member of the influential Justice Select Committee, took part in the evening debate alongside a number of colleagues from across the House, and told the House that the country has a 'golden opportunity' with a new Government and a reforming Justice Secretary in Michael Gove.

Quoting Churchill when he was Home Secretary, Steve Brine argued that there 'treasure in the heart of every man', and reiterated the words of the Prime Minister when he said that we need to get away from the 'sterile lock 'em up or let 'em out' debate, and get smart on prisons and rehabilitation.

He said: "I have never been more sure that prison reform is compassionate Conservatism in action, both financial and social. That is why I would argue that criminal justice policy is not solely about the Ministry of Justice; it is as much about our education and welfare reforms. In my opinion, prison is the ultimate state failure, so a smaller secure estate is a smaller, cheaper and more effective state."

Mr Brine was also able, once again, to reference his trip with the Justice Select Committee to Texas, where they witnessed the Star Court and its radical approach to ensuring that offenders have the maximum chance to turn their lives around and said that the prison population has 30% of people who we are scared of, and need locking away, with 70% "we are just mad at."

He continued: "There will always be serious offenders who need locking up and need to stay there. No one, neither here nor in Texas, is arguing any differently, but there are the others and we cannot afford the ongoing rate of state failure that they represent. I agree we should close the old Victorian prisons, but we should not just build more like-for-like.

"To be clear, I absolutely am saying we should reduce the prison population significantly. The Government should look again at older prisoners, the fastest-growing group in the estate, return to the 82 recommendations from Lord Bradley on the over-representation of people with mental health problems, and look again at Jean Corston's work on women prisoners."

It was announced in the Autumn Statement that the Government is looking at closing the oldest, most run-down Victorian prisons in the country, and since December, Mr Brine has twice pushed the issue in the House, with David Cameron in PMQs and George Osborne in Treasury Questions.

He concluded: "We have a much more fragmented system these days, but the basics have not changed. We can lock 'em up and spend a fortune biting off our nose to spite our face in the long run, but it is time to try something different."


More information ...


Texas 2013

Steve at PMQs - January 2016

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