This morning I was intending to write something entirely different, but when I saw the headlines that the Manchester police had arrested 362 people and are proposing to arrest more, a number of aspects immediately came to mind. The first of course was the problem of holding these people prior to being charged, then the logistical problem of getting them to court, retaining those not bailed, and what is more, in this world of reports, the paperwork involved seems monumental. The fact that this initial raid was so successful will have a knock-on effect across the board, because probably all the senior police officers will not be prepared to allow themselves to be pilloried, if they don’t carry out their own sweeps.
It is alleged, that we in this country have the highest prison population of any. People who appear to know what they’re talking about are constantly criticising this condition, especially in the case of young offenders, in which those sent to prison are in effect swelling the ranks of the seriously criminal. So, if up and down the country, in the bigger conurbations, hundreds of people are going to be brought to trial, not only will general policing suffer for a protracted period, the legal system and the prison system will both be overwhelmed, and at the end of the day chaos will reign because of the high pressure brought to bear on those dealing with the alleged criminals.
What this highlights more than anything, is that there has been negligence prior to this raid, either through lack of forces, or for some other reason. Clearly there has been no sudden and immediate upsurge in criminality to this extent, it has been gradual. Whether I am wrong in my criticism is for those who are not just using basic logic to view the problem, but in-depth of all the parameters. I firmly believe that a serious examination of selected prisons, and selected inmates graded by the quality of the crime and of the period of the sentence, should be carried out by someone unconnected with the prison service or the judicial system, to assess the percentage of people who actually require to be restrained in prison. If the ultimate percentage is low, then remedial solutions must be found. The cost to the Exchequer of retaining a prisoner, which is rising ever higher due to the need for ever more prisons, is so gross that something really needs to be done to justify it. What the future will bring as a result of this raid is anyone’s guess, but somebody high in the scheme of things, must bend his mind seriously to the cause and effect of this raid in the short term and the long.