Towards the end of last year a number of police stations were having to accommodate prisoners because the gaols had become full. Apparently this policy has just been renewed with 6 cells in Torquay, Devon and 6 in Launceston, Cornwall being pressed into service "for the foreseeable future" say Devon and Cornwall Police. How depressing this all is! I believe we have a particularly large number of prisoners in this country relative to our population and for all the government claims of reducing crime there seems to be more of a squeeze on prison accommodation.
Of course one has to be careful with statistics; it might be that if sentences are longer that in itself would slow down the availability of cells. And it may be that as the country's population increases the number of criminals increase assuming the proportions stay the same. All very difficult but it seems to me that much more has to be done with young people who are starting to go off the rails.
Last night I watched the second of two programmes on ITV in which MP Ann Widdecombe visited a couple of notorious estates in London and confronted some of the hoodies. Some of these were OK though intimidating even more so when they congregated in stairwells. Ann spoke to some of the residents who had literally become prisoners in their own homes frightened to go out. The MP strikes me as pretty tough but even she seemed pretty shocked. I'm very keen to see our MPs seeing things at the sharp end be it a rundown estate in London or a farmer on Dartmoor battling the elements and red tape.
It almost defied belief seeing some of these Londoners trying to live their lives - one who was interviewed had been mugged several times. Without wishing to excuse the criminals in any way I would say that the design of the particular tower blocks seen in the two programmes was absolutely soul destroying and there seemed to be numerous alleyways and corners where those bent on mischief could hide. Lots and lots wrong there. Why doesn't the home secretary see these things for himself?