Home UK News Exposed: Dominic Raab’s letter ‘asking judges to imprison fewer people’ – Sunak being ‘soft on crime’?

Exposed: Dominic Raab’s letter ‘asking judges to imprison fewer people’ – Sunak being ‘soft on crime’?

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Dominic Raab letter asking judges to jail less people

Dominic Raab, former deputy Prime Minister, wrote to the Lord Chief Justice asking judges to imprison fewer people – despite the severity of their offences – due to overcrowding in prisons. Prisoner and probationer representatives Inside Time initially revealed the existence of this letter in March.

In February, British prisons were storming to full capacity, and we previously discussed ‘operation safeguard’, where government released guidance instructing prisoners to be kept in local police station cells overnight. In the midst of the growing crisis, Dominic Raab wrote to the Lord Chief Justice to request that overcrowding should be considered when deciding sentencing and if people should be remanded.

Since then, the Senior Presiding Judge of England and Wales declared guidance suggesting that judges should imprison fewer people. Judges have subsequently quoted the guidance repeatedly when explaining their decisions not to imprison those accused or found guilty of crime.

The initial rumours of such a letter caused political furor as the Labour Party began to confront Rishi Sunak, alleging he was ‘soft on crime’. Huffington Post said the following, quoting a Labour insider: “Raab’s letter to judges telling them to go soft on criminals because the justice system is broken was a gift. As soon as it happened, a plan started coming together.”

Dominic Raab's letter asking judges to not jail less people
(Source: Inside Time)

Penal Reform said the following about the situation: “Overcrowding is a result of criminal justice policies, not rising crime rates, and impairs prison systems’ capacity to satisfy basic human necessities such as healthcare, food, and shelter. It also jeopardises the availability and efficacy of rehabilitative services, educational and vocational training, and leisure activities. “

“The overuse of pre-trial custody, as well as the use of imprisonment for minor, petty offences, are major contributors to prison population growth.”

The Labour party’s response to the situation was to call Rishi Sunak soft on crime, and in a fiery exchange Sunak responded labelling Keir Starmer ‘Sir Softy’, alleging he was uncomfortable with tackling grooming gangs. Starmer’s hook was that Sunak ‘lost control of the court service’ and ‘allowed criminals to go free’.

Rishi Sunak responded with the following: “I prosecuted thousands upon thousands of sex offenders. He has just shown he doesn’t understand how the criminal justice system works. No wonder he can’t fix it.”

“Perhaps the prime minister needs to spend less time rewriting history, and more time sorting out the mess he has made of criminal justice. Because the crisis in criminal justice is just a snapshot of public services collapsing under his watch.”

“Our roads, our trains, the NHS, the asylum system, policing, mental health provisions: the Tories have broken them all, and all they’ve got left is excuses and blame.”

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