Becoming more serious, he pointed out that the proportion of prison inmates per head of population in Britain is higher than in all other countries in Europe, and higher even than Turkey. Britain's prison population has increased rapidly in the last few decades and now stands at some 87,000 men and women. At a typical annual cost to the state of some £40,000 per head, the cost of keeping this number of people under lock and key is considerable, at some £3.4 billion. To this must be added the consequential cost to the social security system of families being taken into care or going on benefits while a parent is inside.
Given that while locked up prison inmates are likely to learn from other inmates how to be better criminals, and that they are then likely to reoffend when released, it is surely better to keep most of them outside, instead placing those guilty of less serious offences on re-education programmes. This was a thought-provoking and very well presented talk, much enjoyed by those present.