Norman Lamb says Lib Dems should copy Thatcher (in a good way)

Prison cells
Earlier today I covered Tim Farron’s Festival of Idea initiative.

Norman Lamb has been busy on the policy front too, as Huffington Post reports:

The government should aim to half the prison population over the next ten years, Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Norman Lamb has said.

The former coalition health minister, who is fighting Tim Farron to succeed Nick Clegg, said that prisons were “colleges of crime” and locking people up often causes more problems than it solves…

Lamb also pointed out that the prison population level he was advocating was not unprecedented or soft on crime, as it would be the same as when that famously “woolly liberal” Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

The estimated £1.2bn savings from reducing the prison population should be spent on better resourced and more robust community sentences, including drug and alcohol treatment, more support for people with mental ill health, beneficial unpaid work and restorative justice, Lamb argued.

Lamb, whose brief as a minister included mental health, also said it was “a scandal of our time” that were so many people in prison largely because of their mental ill health or because they have a learning disability. “Simply punishing without providing adequate treatment is wholly counterproductive.”

“These have proven far more effective in turning people’s lives around than locking people up for a short period, at great expense, and hoping for the best,” he said.


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