David Blunkett’s mea culpa on indefinite sentences won’t wash | Letters

Simon Hattenstone writes about David Blunkett’s latest mea culpa regarding imprisonment for public protection sentences (Martin Myers tried and failed to steal a cigarette. Why has he spent 18 years in prison for it?, 1 May). Blunkett’s statements of regret should not be allowed to pass. He admits that the resources were not in place to provide “offending behaviour” courses for those on indeterminate sentences. But as home secretary, he would have known this full well in 2003.

IPP sentences were just one aspect of an enthusiastic authoritarianism practised by Blair and co. Between 1995 and 2009, the prison population rose by 66%. In its 2001 general election manifesto, Labour stated: “We plan the most comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system since the war – to catch, convict, punish and rehabilitate more of the 100,000 persistent offenders.”

From 1997 to 2007, the total spending on criminal justice in the UK added up to around £187bn. Blunkett wants to paint the introduction of IPPs without proper resourcing as an innocent blunder. In reality, New Labour made a political choice to be tough on crime and unconcerned about the causes of crime.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, promises us that “Labour is the party of law and order. The next Labour government will give tough new powers to police”. History repeats.
Nick Moss

I was almost speechless when reading about the latest tragic story of people caught up in the discredited and inhumane IPP sentences. It was always problematic, and one would have thought that, once this was recognised, those charged with implementing the law could have done so in a spirit of humanity. Logic, empathy and sensible governance have been swept away in favour of talking tough and bullying the weakest.
Gillian Kelly
Ironbridge, Shropshire


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