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Friday, February 02, 2007

Given the spate of recent stories about overflowing prisons, I have been hearing again and again this notion that Britain imprisons more than anyone else in Europe. Now in terms of prisoners per head of population that’s true. But is that really what matters? No, what matters is the proportion of prisoners to crimes and on that count Britain is third from the bottom in Europe, a point made very clearly by Robin Harris some time ago. In its newest press release Civitas also makes this clear with some up-to-date figures:

If we imprisoned offenders at the average rate (per 1,000 crimes) of EU members, the prison population would be 113,150 instead of 80,000. [. . .] Socialist Spain has the highest rate per 1,000 crimes and if her rate applied in England and Wales the prison population would be about 369,000.

The causes of crime, whatever you think they are, are not going to vanish anytime soon either, so we seriously need get building more prisons.


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