Read the report: Part 1
| Part 2
BRITAIN is facing the first increase in crime for more
than a decade
and a 25% jump in the prison population to 100,000, a leaked Downing
Street report reveals.
confidential and unusually frank report from Tony Blair’s strategy unit
also attacks the police for failing to improve their performance
despite big budget increases.
“There is still little chance that a crime will be
detected and result in a caution or conviction,” it states.
The leak will embarrass Blair and his ministers, who
for years that “crime is down”, particularly as the report is based on
the Home Office’s own assessments.
In another blow to Labour’s credentials, it adds that
“there is an
increasing wealth gap . . . the very poorest have got poorer since
To combat crime the strategy unit suggests adopting
measures used abroad, including: enforced heroin vaccinations, alcohol
rationing, a ban on alcohol advertising, “chemical castration”, ID chip
implants, the public shaming of offenders, the use of bounty hunters
and enforced parenting classes.
The 60-page report — Policy Review: Crime, Justice and
Cohesion — was written last month. It notes that:
For the first time since the mid-1990s, when the crime
rate began a
steady fall, the number of offences is predicted to start rising again
because of changing economic conditions.
Prisoner numbers are rising beyond capacity and the
Home Office budget has been frozen.
Despite an annual funding increase of 5.5% in real
2001, the police “have largely avoided radical reform . . . Police
resource increases appear unrelated to changes in productivity”.
Nine out of 10 crimes are either not reported or go
Half of all crimes in England Wales are committed by
just 100,000 people.
“Despite progress”, there are still gaps in the
efficiency of the criminal justice system.
The report also makes controversial observations about
the lack of
cohesion in British society: “There is concern about particular groups,
eg Afro-Caribbean boys. More recently, there has been concern about
Pakistani youths, who suffer disproportionately high unemployment, feel
increasingly discriminated against, and disconnected from their
It says that illegal immigration “presents the greatest
for cohesion . . . with clandestine entrants (eg on the back of a
lorry) presenting greater challenges than overstayers.”
To defuse social tensions, the report suggests that
teachers should be banned from covering their faces with the niqab veil
in the classroom and that the government “may make it clear that
wearing a veil in public has potential consequences on cohesion”.
The report was drawn up to feed into one of six policy
were agreed with Gordon Brown, the chancellor, in order to ensure that
Blair’s successor secured the legacy of the prime minister’s 10 years
The document suggests, however, that Blair’s wish to be
for being “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” will be
further undermined, because the chancellor has now imposed a real-term
freeze in the Home Office budget.
“Spending on prison and probation has risen faster than
that on the
National Health Service,” the report notes. “Police and prisoner
numbers have risen sharply. However, spending is not set to increase
further, as the spending agreement has fixed Home Office spend to 2012.”
The report is illustrated by a series of annotated
suggests that the prison population is expected to rise by 25% in the
next five years from 80,000 to more than 100,000. This far exceeds the
number of prison places the government has planned for, suggesting that
ministers will have to come up with radical solutions to cope with the
expected crime wave.
The strategy unit points out: “Prison numbers are rising
capacity, yet evidence suggests that they are an expensive way to meet
crime and punishment objectives. Should there be a limit to prison
expansion?” The report also implies disagreement between No 10 and the
Treasury about crime trends. It states that “80% of (the) recent
decrease in crime (is) due to economic factors . . . Unless action is
taken, economic and social pressures are expected to put recent falls
in crime under threat”.
It says that crime will rise “because the rate of
growth is slowing”. This appears to be a reference, among other things,
to unemployment rising over the past year.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “This
report demonstrates what the government has been denying for years,
that there is a massive shortage of prison places. That will mean more
short prison sentences, more early releases and more dangerous
criminals on our streets — and as a result more crime caused by the