West Yorkshire PCC backs scrapping short prison sentences 'in principle'

Armley Prison in Leeds
Armley Prison in Leeds

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has backed a possible move to abolish prison sentences of less than 12 months.

Mark Burns-Williamson said he supported the idea "in principle", provided the Probation Service were properly equipped to monitor criminals serving community penalties.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson said he wanted to see the Probation Service fully renationalised.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson said he wanted to see the Probation Service fully renationalised.

The government is already considering scrapping sentences of six months or less, with Justice Secretary David Gauke recently suggesting that the current guidelines "aren't working". A group of MPs this week proposed more radical action, and said jail terms short of a year should not be imposed.

Following a meeting with Mr Gauke in London this week, the PCC said that scrapping short prison sentences could work as long as the Probation Service was fully renationalised.

The part-privatisation of the service, which was started under Chris Grayling, has been under scrutiny recently after three community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) used by the government fell into administration.

Speaking at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, Mr Burns-Williamson said: "In principle, I can go with getting rid of sentences of less than 12 months, as long as there's the right resources in place for community sentencing.

Campaigners say short sentences leave prisoners at greater risk of reoffending

Campaigners say short sentences leave prisoners at greater risk of reoffending

"Of course we've had the recent reports that have been very critical of the Probation Service and CRCs.

"Again, I've put forward the case that the service needs to be brought back into public ownership, rather than being tendered out to private companies."

Figures show the UK's prison population has doubled since the early 1990s and advocates of community sentences say prisoners inside for short terms are likely to reoffend.

Local Democracy Reporting Service