» Monday, January 29, 2007

Prisons/Home Office split

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted the Government miscalculated prison places as set out in the 2003 Act, the PMOS said that the Government had built nearly 20,000 extra places. HM Prison Kennett opened in Merseyside today, which could hold up to 350 prisoners. In terms of the 2003 Act, that was also about reducing the length of some sentences, as well as increasing others. It was getting the balance right that was important. Nobody was pretending that it was not tough, as it was. That was precisely why we had asked for another 8000 places.

Put that John Reid had set out that he needed a 2 ½ year timetable at the Home Office to "finish the job" and was that a timetable that the Prime Minister recognised and agreed with, the PMOS replied that John Reid had identified the timeframe for the process of reform. Nobody doubted that there was a need for reform, but equally, people should not forget the successes there had been, for example, reducing crime, or increasing the numbers of police officers. Therefore, it was not a wholly negative picture, but it was one where there were problems that still had to be resolved. The PMOS gave the example of the Sex Offenders’ Register, because 10 years ago, there was not a Sex Offenders’ Register; today, there were 33,000 names on it. With regards to the timeframe, John Reid was the person in charge of identifying the problems and resolving them. Therefore, we would take his analysis.

Asked if the Prime Minister had made up his mind about splitting up the Home Office, the PMOS said that that was a matter that had to be given serious consideration. It was being, and it would be seriously considered, as there were serious issues involved. Because the focus of it was in terms of counter-terrorism, it was a matter being dealt with with some urgency, but it would take some time.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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