In tabloid speak David Cameron has moved form "hug a hoodie" to "mug a hoodie" in a a speech carefully timed to re-assure the Tory faithful as we approach the first ever elections for Police and Crime Commissioners. The description is not quite fair, as some of Cameron's proposals, emphasising prevention and rehabilitations, are quite constructive. He has moved a long way from the days of Micheal Howard's "prison works" so lock 'em up and throw away the key, even if he has sacked Kenneth Clarke, the minister most likely to implement a more constructive policy.
What Cameron has failed to do is provide the funds to implement the more more constructive policies he espouses.
An article in yesterday's Guardian, "How to hug a hoodie" spells out the facts - this paragraph in particular:
(...who is (the) criminal? Mentally ill people, addicts, individuals who, through lack of care, have developed personality disorders, those with hidden head injuries, those who have been sexually and physically abused, and those with learning difficulties constitute the majority of our offenders...
Helping these victims of what Cameron is pleased to call our "broken society" can not be done without resources, and it is hard to see how bribing the private sector with "payment by results" is likely to be any more effective or efficient than properly resourcing the public services engaged in these vital areas. Indeed, with the example of PFI and G4s, the results are likely to be much more expensive and much less effective. Do our politicians never learn?
These necessary costs arise in the short run, but in the long run will save money. Unfortunately our political system is so geared that our leaders find it difficult to look beyond the next election, in this case for Police and Crime Commissioners in three weeks.