Monday, December 17, 2007

Give Criminals A break

Gordon Henderson
Date: 16th December 2007
Release date: Immediate
Subject: Labour giving criminals a break – as they walk free from local prisons.

New analysis of Government statistics has revealed that 1233 criminals have been let out of prison before finishing their sentences across the South East of England since June, under Labour’s controversial new early release scheme. This figure includes 117 prisoners who have been let out early from Elmley and 190 from Stanford Hill.

Across the country, 11,000 criminals have already walked out of prison early under the ‘end of custody licence’ system, with an estimated 25,500 criminals to be let out over a full year. They include violent offenders and foreign nationals convicted of serious offences. The scheme was introduced because a shortage in prison places, thanks to a funding crisis caused by Gordon Brown.

Labour Ministers are now planning a new sentencing quango, which would, for the first time, link sentences to prison capacity, so that when jails are full, criminals could receive shorter sentences or not be sent to prison at all.

Gordon Henderson said:
‘By definition, being sent to prison means someone has committed a serious offence. Yet Labour is giving criminals a break, by setting them free early, some of whom will re-offend almost immediately.

‘Serious crimes should be punished by a prison sentence, not least to protect the public. It is no wonder that violent crime has doubled under this Government when Gordon Brown is giving the culprits a “get out of jail” card this Christmas. This is fundamentally wrong. Sentences should fit the crime, not this week’s prison capacity.’

Conservatives are calling for:
· An immediate halt to the early release scheme, and the introduction of an emergency prison places programme using the savings from scrapping the flawed Identity Card scheme.

· Doubling the sentencing powers of magistrates to 12 months and repealing any new restrictions on their ability to hand down suspended sentences.

· Honesty in sentencing so that convicted criminals serve the minimum sentence handed down to them by the courts.

· Sufficient prison capacity to hold all those sentenced by the courts – and reforming prison regimes to break the cycle of re-offending.

Notes to Editors

LABOUR Giving criminals a break

The Government is trying to deal with the continuing shortfall in prison places by watering down sentences and attempting to restrict the ability of courts to send offenders to prison.

· The Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill, currently before the House of Commons, ends magistrates’ powers to impose a suspended sentence, and limits the period served in custody by offenders who breach their licence conditions to just 28 days.

· The Government plans to restrict the use of its flagship Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). There will be a minimum tariff of two years below which Judges will no longer be able be impose an IPP. This would affect half the cases in which IPPs are currently imposed for threats to kill, arson, sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, and most cases of sexual assault on a child under 13. The whole point of these sentences was to protect the public, ensuring that offenders could not be released until they were judged no longer to be a threat. Now they will be released automatically.

· A new Sentencing Commission will, for the first time, link sentences to resources, so that when jails are full, criminals could receive shorter sentences or not be sent to prison at all.

· It appears that the End of Custody Licence scheme, under which 11,000 offenders have already been released from jail 18 days early, will now continue indefinitely – even though it was meant to be a temporary measure. The Government expects to release 25,500 offenders early in a single year.


The Government has published figures showing the number of criminals that have been let out of prison early, under the Government’s early release scheme. The figures below show the number let out from June to October.

Source: Ministry of Justice, End of Custody Licence Statistics, December 2007.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kent Police Spend money on Newsletter

I have just received very well produced and expensive booklet entitled “Policing Kent” which features smiling Police Officers, information on Police Station Opening Times (yes Police Station have shop opening hours, because most crimes happen in those hours?)how well the Police are doing their job and of course we all know that GB and Kent is a very safe place in the World to live!!!!. There is a special telephone line for Homophobic crime and one for racial crime, presumably if a crime is committed against these two groups of people it is more serious then if a crime is committed against the rest of us?
With regard to the new PCSO I was under the impression that this was Policing on the cheap but I am told this not the case, according to a PCSO web site in the West Midlands their wages are £19,000 per annum compared with a new PC at £21,000 so it just a saving of £2,000 so why not train these people up to be proper Police Officer? Once again I have got it wrong I am told that Kent have their quota of Police Officers as they have to keep within their budget OK but where does the money come for the PCSO’s.? Listening to PCSO’s on various chat shows most want to become Police Officers and find being a PCSO is a way in through the back door.
The public are continually being told that the Police do not have the resources yet they can spend tens of thousands of pounds on a glossy magazine, the British Public have lost all faith in the Police and the Judicial system in this country what we want is better policing, the capture of criminals who are put away for some considerable time. I recently had a motor cycle stolen I reported the crime and was given my crime number, I then had a follow up call giving me the number of victims support and then was asked if I would help with a survey. Yet what I wanted was a Police Officer to come and see me and make some effort to catch the little toe rags who nicked my bike, needless to say I never saw a Police Officer mind you I should have told them I was an ethnic homosexual I most probably I would have a dozen round.
To finalise I would like to ask the Chief Constable through your newspaper whether the following is true That before investigating any crime Police Officer have to make a RISK ASSESMENT before they respond to the crime and if the risk is to great they do not respond? Hopefully this is one of those silly rumours. Can you imagine the scenario if this is true> An emergency call comes in that a big fight has started in the Town Centre, the Police then quickly have a meeting to work out a Risk Assessment. For this they will need a detailed map of the area, looking out for obstacles which could cause them injuries i.e. steps, wet pavements, lampposts, cars, etc they then have to evaluate how many personnel are needed for the incident, for this they must consultant the various guideline which are laid down by Senior Officers finally they then must write out a report which each officers must sign ¾ hour later they have left for the incident which has now finished but they make themselves available to the ambulance personnel who picking up the injured. Alternatively they say NO to the call as they do not have enough Officers to meet the Risk Assessment Guidelines.

Martin Clarke Sittingbourne Kent

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


2008 PRICE HIKES FROM 7.75% to 11.75%




29 November 2007

Thanks to all you commuters who have given your overwhelming support to our campaign. We have had a great response from our fellow passengers, and interest from local press and councillors. We have contacted Southeastern in search of accurate information for you, and will be contacting the unions as well.

As mentioned in our last newsletter (App. 1: Mike Gibson's letter), the specifications on which the franchise was put out to tender are being reviewed. Sadly this doesn't mean we will be renationalised, but it does mean a review of the 2009 timetable - so now is the time to make your voice heard. Get everyone you can to support our petitions (please sign both!). Also write to Southeastern (, your local MP (addresses below, as before), councillors and the local press.

Ask the following questions which we all, as fare paying passengers and tax paying citizens, want answered:
What is the frequency of commuter trains to Cannon Street and Victoria FROM 2009 (number and exact times)?
Southeastern declared for December 2009 (no mention of what happens going forward) 4 per peak period to Cannon St (2 from Faversham and 2 from Broadstairs) and 6 per peak period to Victoria.

What is the number of first and second class passengers per service compared to number of first and second class seats that will be provided?
Southeastern are proposing to have at least 90 passengers per carriage per train on the Cannon Street service and 70 on Victoria trains - and this is if each train has 12 carriages.

How many additional stops will each train make?
Southeastern admit to at least two, but we have been told it will be Longfield, Meopham and Swanley.

What is the proposed increase to current journey times for Victoria and Cannon St? Southeastern admit journey times "do take a bit longer" - probably long enough to force us all onto the St Pancras service.

Exactly what are the proposed fare increases for 2008 - 2011 per year, not the average, but the exact figure?
See table below for 2008 proposals - 7.81-11.75%!!. Southeastern call it fare increases, but in our view these are tantamount to theft. Our mate Purple Mike at Southeastern completely ignored my question on fares. We know it will be "an average of inflation plus 3%", however 11.75% for some stations is currently under that neat little umbrella! We believe Southeastern to be 'abusing its position of dominance', which is strictly prohibited under the Competition Act 1988 (the Chapter II, Prohibition).

Kent is desperately trying to attract more London workers - how will it do this with overcrowded trains, year on year double figure price rises and an ever slower commute?
Mike Gibson, (aka Purple Mike) Southeastern's Public Affairs Manager, emailed me on 9 November and said Southeastern do not want "misleading information being circulated amongst out passengers" (sic), but then proceeded to provide me with information which I very much believe to be misleading, and refused to answer some questions. See italicised information above for the main points in his e-mail. Also I am quite concerned that the information was "for 2009" - which does seem something of a play on words, is it only for December 09, will even this paltry service be phased out beyond that date?

Purple Mike finished his letter with the statement "I quite understand your wish for improved rail services and this is a goal we both share, however, I am sure you would want rail users to have the facts." I most certainly do want passengers to have the facts, and when he provides the answers to the questions I asked, rather than the answers he deigns to give, I will circulate them instantly. Our team will keep on asking until we get the answers.

We need your help - sign the petition, write to Southeastern and to your MP.


Just in case you are dithering over whether it is worth making the effort, you should be aware that from December 2009 you will very likely need a travelcard to get from Stratford / St Pancras to your destination. If price hikes are similar to 2008's increase (and prior years' hikes do suggest a pattern of ever increasing rises) the true rise from a "London Terminals season ticket" to a Travelcard will be 26%. The proposed addition, we understand, for the Gravesend to St Pancras leg of the journey is 30%.