Liz Truss rejects calls to cut sentences to reduce prison population

The justice secretary, Liz Truss, is to reject making deep cuts in the record 85,000 prison population in England and Wales warning that such “quick fix” solutions would put the public at greater risk.

She is to argue that the biggest driver of the growth in the prison population in the last 20 years has not been longer prison sentences, as is often claimed, but a much tougher approach to sexual offences, domestic violence and child abuse.

The justice secretary is to say that the 140% increase in sex offenders being sent to jail since 2000 and the 75% increase in custodial sentences for violent offenders has led to “a profound change in the nature” of the jail population in England and Wales. Three out of every five offenders are now inside for crimes of sex, drug pushing or violence.

In a speech on Monday to the Centre for Social Justice, Truss will say she wants to see a reduction in the prison population by reforming offenders through early intervention and more effective community penalties, and by better managing those who are locked up.

She will in particular condemn calls by Labour frontbenchers, including most recently from the shadow attorney-general, Shami Chakrabarti, to halve the prison population by handing out shorter prison sentences.

“Reductions by cap or quota, or by sweeping sentence cuts are not a magic bullet, they are a dangerous attempt at a quick fix,” the justice secretary is expected to say.

Her intervention comes in advance of her…


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