LETTER: 'More than an element of stable door, horse and bolted about MP's statement on re-offending'

PUBLISHED: 16:48 14 February 2016

The MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Lucy Frazer, says that prisoners should have better access to education as this reduces re-offending rates.

This is hardly ground-breaking stuff, most people acknowledge that lack of education and persistent re-offending are entwined. But there is more than an element of stable door, horse and bolted about this statement.

The current government, of which Ms Frazer is a member, has continued to cut funding to local government, depleting the agencies that work to prevent young people ending up in the criminal justice system.

Last autumn’s report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons stated: “Eighty five per cent of boys in this report explained that they had been excluded from school before they came into detention, 73 per cent said they had truanted from school at some time, and 41 per cent were 14 or younger when they last attended school. These figures are both devastating and unsurprising.”

Yet funding to this sector continues to decline. Greater reliance is placed on the voluntary sector and community interest companies (CICs).

This is not a sustainable approach, in neighbouring Northamptonshire the CIC ‘Youthworks’ which deals specifically with excluded pupils, is threatened as the county council withdraws its share of funding.

Leaving aside the trauma that victims of crime endure, the fact that with prison places costing the government around £40,000 per inmate per year surely this is a case where economically and morally prevention is better than the cure?

Gareth Wright

Waterbeach Labour Group

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