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    New thinking on prison sentencing needed

    13:07, May 26 17 0

    The helpful info graphic accompanying the Ministry of Justice 2018 statistics (Report, 24 May) showed that 71% of offenders sentenced to immediate custody received sentences of six months or less. This makes the present push to follow Scotland’s example and abolish such sentences even more compelling. But that of itself would not solve the problem. The numbers of offenders being returned to prison for failing to conform to the requirements of their community sentence or licence has increased from a mere 150 in 1993 to nearly 7,000 in 2016. This reflects a predominant criminal justice culture here: you punish an offender; he or she does not get “cured” by that punishment; so next time you punish them harder. And most offenders, who tick many of the boxes on the social deprivation indices, have spent their lives flouting authority and breaking rules. So it’s hardly surprising that many find conforming to stringent imposed rules quite difficult. A different approach is needed, where punishment is not seen as an inevitable escalator of severity, and which offers frustrated magistrates an alternative to the counterproductive short prison sentence.Andy Stelman(Retired assistant chief probation officer, Merseyside), Bishops Castle, Shropshire

    Trans women given formal access to Hampstead Heath pond

    13:12, May 23 29 0

    Transgender women have had their right to use Hampstead Heath ponds formalised in a new policy. The City of London Corporation (CoLC), which manages Hampstead Heath and its ponds, announced that it had adopted a new gender identity policy to make sure services in the area “are fully compliant with the Equality Act 2010, and do not discriminate against trans people”.

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