Joint letter to the Telegraph on ending short sentences

Joint letter to the Telegraph on short sentences


Nacro and the Prison Reform Trust sent a joint letter to the Telegraph to call for more political action on the presumption against short prison sentences. It was published on 21st May 2024 on the Telegraph’s letter page and in print in the paper on the same day.

The sentencing bill which is currently going through parliament includes the presumption against short prison sentences, meaning custodial sentences of 12 months or less should only be used as a last resort. People would instead be given community sentences. Many organisations in the criminal justice sector have been calling for this as a common sense way to not only free up prison places but as a way to reduce reoffending.

The letter in full:

Dear Editor,

Yesterday’s article ‘Up to 23,000 criminals will escape jail under Government plans to scrap short sentences’ side steps the critical point that short prison sentences have been proven to be less effective than community sentences and suspended sentences at reducing reoffending. This isn’t about being ‘soft’ on crime, this is about following the evidence of what works and ensuring fewer future victims of crime. Even a short prison sentence can destroy someone’s life. People lose their home, job and their children can be taken into care. When they come out of prison they must start again from scratch, making dealing with the issues that lead to their offending much harder. This was the case even before the prisons started running out of space. If we genuinely want to see less crime, fewer victims and safer communities we need to look at the evidence of what works. We call on all political parties to support the presumption against short sentences as a common-sense way to reduce crime.

Yours sincerely.

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Nacro

Pia Sinha, Chief Executive, Prison Reform Trust