MP attacks Labour's "absurd" plan for Titan prisons

March 4, 2009 2:07 PM

Labour's "absurd" plan for Titan prisons should be scrapped immediately, demands Cambridge MP David Howarth.

Mr Howarth, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, is backing a call for the government to focus instead on measures that will reduce the prison population.

He will provide the summing up for a motion at the party's spring conference in Harrogate on Saturday (March 7) which urges the government to end immediately the plan for 'super prisons' holding 2,500 inmates each.

Party members and supporters will be told that smaller, 'fit for purpose' facilities should be built instead and greater use should be made of restorative justice.

"A decade of criminal mismanagement of the justice system, sadly, shows no sign of abating," said Mr Howarth.

"It is amazing that ministers are ploughing ahead with their absurd plans for Titan prisons when the jails we already have are failing to meet acceptable standards.

"Our prisons are bursting at the seams because ministers are obsessed with sounding tough. It is high time that the government looked again at its ineffective policies on short-term custodial sentences, indeterminate sentences and Titan prisons."

The probation service should be strengthened to enforce community sentences, and minor offences and anti-social behaviour should be dealt with by Community Justice Panels in every town, conference will be told. This will bring about restorative justice, where offenders recognise the effects of their actions on their victims. This approach has been shown to be far more effective than prison sentences at stopping offenders from committing crimes again.

"The government should focus on measures that will actually reduce the prison population, such as removing prisoners with mental health and drug problems, and greater use of restorative justice," added Mr Howarth.

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