Book News: January 19th, 2005

This report finds that a comprehensive and constructive new approach to crime is needed. A positive agenda, based on prevention and treatment of causes, alongside much greater public involvement in alternatives to prison, would enjoy widespread support. It argues that payback should be central to punishment. Alternatives to prison should do more to benefit victims and communities, with restorative justice schemes introduced in every magistrates’ and crown court. An element of community payback should normally form part of all sentences in prison and the community. Panels of local people should help decide what form unpaid community work by offenders should take in their areas.The report also advocates more visible and constructive alternatives to prison. A major public education campaign about alternatives to prison is needed and sentencers should be more involved in the implementation of community-based sentences. Research revealed that prison is not popular, with five times more people favouring better parenting (57 per cent) than more offenders in prison (11 per cent) as the best way to reduce crime. Much more should be done to prevent ‘at risk’ children from being drawn into crime. Schools and health services should take more responsibility for preventing offending by young people with much greater support offered to the parents of teenagers.

The report is available at: