Tory Justice spokesman obsessed with cuts

After Andrew Lansley’s revelation that the Tories planned ten per cent cuts last month it was the turn of Shadow Justice Minister Edward Garnier to reveal the opposition obsession today.

The Harborough MP appeared to let the cat out of the bag at the launch this morning of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Green Paper on Young Adults in the Criminal Justice System.

Rather than debate the subject and offer solutions to youth crime, he chose instead to focus on the bottom line, asking only of the report’s recommendations: “How much will it all cost?”

Unlike health and international development, the Ministry of Justice budget will not be protected by a future Conservative administration.

The Tories are yet to set out where those cuts will be made, and how deep they will be, which programmes will be affected and how many jobs will be lost – the knock-on effects of which may lead to an increase in crime.

Such is the Tory obsession with cutting public services they seem unable to comprehend the long-term consequences of such a course of action, nor the fact it may end up costing even more to put right.

Recommendations made by T2A – whose members include NACRO, The Prince’s Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform – include the establishment of a national employment programme for ex-offenders, an expansion of drug and alcohol treatment programmes and a preference for community sentences over custodial ones.

Also recommended is a clean slate approach, in which young adults can have previous convictions wiped from their records, and a much greater focus on looking after children in care, where the majority of young offenders are from, especially when they turn 18 and the state effectively washes its hands of them.

Last week David Cameron showed he was willing to give Andy Coulson a second chance; whether Mr Garnier will follow his boss’ lead and embrace the second chance agenda and discuss policies instead of pennies remains to be seen.

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