Monday, March 15, 2010

Detention Works

"A POLICE crackdown on suspected burglars led to raids on 50 homes.
And the blitz led to an unprecedented three-day lull in the crime in Cambridge. There were no burglaries in the city on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday this week thanks to a “concerted clampdown” by the new head of Cambridge police’s burglary squad."

So putting them in locked cells works? Yes, but the state can't keep people in prison just because it believes they're villians. Proof is needed.


  1. More background to this was given at the South Area Committee last week.

    The problem is burglaries are being committed by known burglars who've been let out of prison on probation.

    I agree that the police need to ensure they can properly justify any action they take - particularly action as serious as an arrest or a search of someone's home.

    My impression from the South Area committee (and parts of the South are experiencing burglary levels as high as Kings Hedges at the moment) is that the public would like the police to give slightly less weight to the civil liberties and human rights of these convicted burglars who've been let out of prison early and to do more to keep in touch with them, keep and eye on them, and stop them re-offending. I was reassured by the police presentation that they are doing a good job at ensuring they act in a proportional and justifiable manner.

    Perhaps we should hear, in public, from the probation service, as it appears to me it ought be their role, not the police's to ensure any release goes smoothly and does not result in re-offending.

    If people have served their time and have reformed their character then of course they ought not be harassed by the police or other authorities. If burglaries are being carried out near where a recently released burglar is living and aspects of the crime match the way that person used to behave then its pretty reasonable for the police to check them out.

    I can see the Cambridge News article gives the impression that the police are simply rounding up the usual suspects; but I think they're actually acting on the basis of reasonable suspicion.

    When we release people from prison we need to help them into a life away from crime. It shouldn't be down to the police to do this alone.

  2. Quite right.


  3. Actually, if you read what the police said more carefully, you would see that locking people up was only a very small part of the exercise. "We visit offenders on the day they leave prison and receive good information from local people", was one quote from the inspector involved. And the raids on the 50 homes were all supported by warrants. This sounds like good, intelligence-based policework.

    On the other hand, the cost of creating prison places for the 7000 a year who are "let off" with a caution would be what, £500 million at least? And as the National Audit Office pointed out very recently, short-term imprisonment is notoriously ineffective at stopping reoffending, because no effort is spent on anything other than locking them up.

    Money spent on more prison places would most likely come from other more important parts of the criminal justice budget, such as the probation service.