Why more of us are locked up than ever

SO Britain's jails have reached bursting point, with more people banged up than ever before.We have a record number of prison places, yet still need to shut citizens up in police cells.

SO Britain's jails have reached bursting point, with more people banged up than ever before.

We have a record number of prison places, yet still need to shut citizens up in police cells.

This in the land where more of the population is behind bars than anywhere else in the West.

No doubt this scandal owes something to the lock-em-all-up mentality of small-minded middle England, whose opinion seems to be the one that counts in high places.

Maybe it also has something to do with the astonishing record of a government that has created nearly 700 new criminal offences since coming to power in 1997.

And you thought Blair was a wishy-washy liberal.

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You can't just blame the government, though. The law was an ass long before Blair, and it will doubtless be one when he's just a name in the history books.

Take the case of Jeffrey Wolfe-Emery. I don't know this colourful old geezer, and I dare say he's a right pain to live next door to.

Peeing on your neighbour's garden flowers at the age of 69 isn't nice, or normal.

Neither is asking a passer-by to give you a false alibi. Or running away from court and barricading yourself in your home.

But what on earth is the point in sending the perpetrator of these barmy misdemeanours to prison for six months?

Is it going to reform him – or act as a deterrent to other old blokes planning to do the same?

The poor guy is obviously barking. He needs help, not a dose of porridge.

And the same goes, I imagine, for many – if not most – of the "criminals" now lodging at Her Majesty's pleasure.

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I TEND to be suspicious of surveys that tell us things like 42 per cent of couples who buy double-glazing enjoy using spinach in their sex-life.

They always make me wonder what the question was – and how I'd answer if it was put to me.

Like: 99 per cent of people surveyed said they'd never committed murder, incest or had an Afro hairstyle. Well, what would you say?

One would assume some of the 99 per cent might be lying – and the one per cent were joking.

Among the usual welter of such survey results came one this week which claimed ten per cent of drivers still use hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

Assuming normal human instinct when answering the survey, one must suppose the real figure is higher. Which is worrying.

Since December, when one of those 700 new offences came into being, those using the phone at the wheel risk a £30 fixed penalty or a £1,000 fine if the case goes to court.

The woman who has not once, but twice, pulled across in front of me in Key Street with all her attention on her phone was risking a lot more. If I'd been on the phone too I might have driven straight into her.

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ROBERT Atkins's widow says she has "had enough" of attacks on her old man's memory. It is, she says, a private matter that he was fat and ill when he slipped on an icy footpath last year and died.

Well, yes, normally that would be true. But this was the man who invented the bizarrely popular diet that threatens to make half the western world fat and ill.

America, in fact, is a fat and ill nation. Even the US government admits obesity is fast catching up with tobacco as the No.1 preventable killer.

The answer is a balanced diet, not one based on gorging flesh at a rate most non-Americans couldn't afford.

The world would be a sicker place in every sense if the whole human race turned carnivore, as advocated by Atkins.

In the circumstances, the public needs to know that when he died the so-called slimming guru weighed over 18stone and had a history of congestive heart failure and hypertension.

***

CN u unastan wen i rite lk ths?

Stndds of ritg r bng destroyd bi eml & txt msgs, it sez ere.

Mnd u they sd th sm thg wen Caxtn invntd prntg.

Wot u fink? Let me no bi emlg aidan@holdthefrontpage.co.uk

CU nxt wk. :-)

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