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Scrap short jail terms, says justice secretary David Gauke

‘Prison doesn’t work’:
David Gauke PICTURE: PA

JUSTICE secretary David Gauke has called for short prison sentences to be scrapped in a move towards ‘smart justice’.

Mr Gauke called for a more ‘imaginative’ approach to crime and punishment, with a greater focus on rehabilitation in the community, except for ‘closely defined exceptions’ such as violent and sexual crimes.

He cited figures that showed, in the past five years, more than 250,000 custodial sentences have been given to offenders for six months or less while more than 300,000 sentences were for 12 months or less. Shoplifting was the most common offence.

Mr Gauke said: ‘For the offenders completing these short sentences whose lives are destabilised, and for society which incurs a heavy financial and social cost, prison simply isn’t working.’

It is 25 years since Conservative home secretary Michael Howard announced ‘prison works’. Peter Dawson of the Prison Reform Trust said Mr Gauke was ‘establishing a reputation as a thoughtful, balanced policy thinker, driven by evidence not preconception’.