POLL: Was prison sentence u-turn a good idea?

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

THE Prime Minister has this week announced the scrapping of plans to halve sentences for criminals who enter a guilty plea.

Although Justice Secretary Ken Clarke insisted the move was not a U-turn, but a necessary change as part of radical justice system reforms, many commentators have seen the announcement as an embarrassment for the Government.

Members of the public in Buckingham gave their views.

Mike Hall, former landlord of the New Inn in Bridge Street in Buckingham, said: “There should be no bargaining, and penalties should be penalties. I think it’s a good thing they’ve done a U-turn, but it also shows how weak the Government is.

“They never should have proposed it in the first place.”

Stephen Simmons, from Calvert Green, said: “They’ve eventually come around and done the right thing. I think public opinion has forced Cameron to do a U-turn.

“Obviously where we started was that our prisons are overpopulated. We’re sending money abroad at the moment, which we’re right to do, but we need to put our own house in order first.”

Buckingham resident Christina Beglan said: “I think it’s ridiculous. I’m American, and if you get a life sentence there it means life.

“You can get sentences like 86 years, but here it’s often only two or three years. But it’s too expensive to keep prisoners in jail unless they do work.”

Paul Scotney, of Solstice Cycles in Cornwall Place, Buckingham, said: “Sentences shouldn’t be decided by the fact people have owned up. Personal circumstances should and are taken into account, and people already get time taken off their sentences for good behaviour.”

Katy Jeacock, from Fine Wines of Buckingham in Cornwall Place, said: “I think it should depend on what they’ve done. If it’s something petty like shoplifting I think it might be a good idea, but for something really bad they should serve the full sentence.

“What’s the point in keeping a shoplifter in prison for three months when you could just tag them?”

Ed Grimsdale, of Glynswood Road in Buckingham, said: “I think it was a good suggestion originally because we lock up far too many people in this country. In a financial crisis we need to try to cut down.

“Does it do them any good or make them better people? I don’t think sentences should be halved for serious crimes, but some people go in and learn to break the law better.”