Early release of foreign criminals will make the UK Government look soft on crime.
Former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who made the statement, said the plan of the government to release foreign criminal early, as a way of tackling the prison crisis, would send a wrong message to criminals.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk announced a package of measures last week to ease the pressure on Britain’s overcrowded jails, including a presumption of suspended sentences for anyone jailed for less than 12 months.
One of the ideas is to release foreign-born criminals up to 18 months early so that they can be deported.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd – who was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales between 2013 and 2017, said “the policy could be seen as reducing the punishment of overseas criminals in order to ensure that UK citizens can continue to be sent to prison”.
“In addition, the policy risks reducing the deterrents for overseas citizens to commit crime, potentially undermining confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Members of the House of Lords debated the government’s plan on Thursday before supporting it.
Lord Thomas called it “regrettable” that the government has not provided key pieces of data to support the plan, including estimates of how many prisoners would be affected and an assessment of the impact on deterring crime.
“That the Department has provided no analysis of these and other operational risks is disappointing and means that it is impossible to assess properly whether the change is appropriate”, he said.
A junior justice minister, Lord Bellamy, had issued an apology in the House of Lords for missing information in the government’s initial publications.
Source: The Standard.