Prisoners must have access to the internet, insist Lib Dems

Criminals should NOT fear police and prisoners must have access to the internet, insist Lib Dems

  • Liberal Democrats will propose that prisoners should be given internet access
  • Justice spokesman says the focus should be on social problems leading to crime
  • Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine says criminals should not be terrified of the law

Criminals should not be terrified of the law and prisoners should have internet access, Liberal Democrats will say at their conference today.

Christine Jardine, the party’s justice spokesman, said police should not try to come across as ‘cruel’.

The MP for Edinburgh West told the Daily Mail the focus should instead be on the social problems that lead to crime. 

Christine Jardine, the party’s justice spokesman, said police should not try to come across as ‘cruel’. The Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth will today debate a motion on whether to allow prisoners to go online

‘That’s how you prevent crime, which to me is always better,’ she said.

‘This is why I take such an issue with [Home Secretary] Priti Patel’s stance – people being terrified of the police. You shouldn’t set the police up as being separate, as being in some ways cruel.’

In an interview with the Mail last month, Miss Patel had said she wanted criminals to ‘literally feel terror at the thought of committing offences’.

Miss Jardine’s remarks come in the wake of a dramatic fall in the proportion of suspects being brought before the courts. Only 7.8 per cent of crimes end up with a charge or summons, Home Office figures reveal. A prison is pictured above [File photo]

The Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth will today debate a motion on whether to allow prisoners to go online.

It states: ‘The provision of healthcare, education, training, work opportunities in prisons must improve, as must access to sport, art and music. Prisoners should also have access to IT, subject to appropriate content controls.’ 

Miss Jardine said: ‘How can you get a job, how do you sort your life out without being online? It’s the key to everything.

‘You have to think about what the purpose is of having people in prison. Do you put them in there just to punish them, or to help them rehabilitate? Too often in the past in this country we’ve actually made things worse with prison.

£4million election fund boost

The Lib Dems have raised £4million in just two weeks for their election fighting fund.

Following success in local and European elections, the party now poses a serious threat to the Tories and Labour.

It is polling at around 20 per cent – up from around 7 per cent a year ago – and has seen an increase in members.

Yesterday Jo Swinson signalled her ambitions by again ruling out backing a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. 

The Lib Dem leader said she would not even consider informal support. 

‘The faultline in British politics is no longer a Left-Right divide, and that is what the Labour-Conservative duopoly of politics was predicated on,’ she said.

She also accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of viewing politics as ‘a game’. 

There were rumours last night that the party will unveil another defector. It can already boast 17 MPs after Sarah Wollaston, Chuka Umunna, Phillip Lee and Luciana Berger switched sides.

Jo Swinson signalled her ambitions by again ruling out backing a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. The Lib Dem leader said she would not even consider informal support

‘In the modern world you cannot do much at all without access to the internet. Now, as long as you’ve got controls about what you can do, it’s helping people read, you can help educate people, you can help them get a job.’

She said it was important for prisoners to be able to apply for Universal Credit ahead of their return to society.

Miss Jardine’s remarks come in the wake of a dramatic fall in the proportion of suspects being brought before the courts.

Only 7.8 per cent of crimes end up with a charge or summons, Home Office figures reveal. 

This is down from 17.2 per cent five years ago. Almost half of crimes are written off with ‘no suspect identified’.

The Lib Dems will also vote on a motion to stop women going to prison except for all but the most grave offences.

Miss Jardine said: ‘If a woman hasn’t committed a really serious crime, is there a better way of dealing with her, is there a better way of supporting her and her family – why is she in prison?

‘That should be the question we ask about anybody. Why are they there?’ The motion, which is likely to pass, also calls for convicted criminals to be jailed in prisons close to their homes.

The MP for Edinburgh West told the Daily Mail the focus should instead be on the social problems that lead to crime. ‘That’s how you prevent crime, which to me is always better,’ she said. A prison is pictured above [File photo]

There is a further vote on whether to end the ‘pink tax’ – the price gap between products aimed at men and at women.

Miss Jardine said female ‘pink’ purchases typically cost 37 per cent more than male ‘blue’ items, even for such basics as toiletries.

She added: ‘It can cost you twice as much to get your hair cut if you’re a woman.

‘And then there’s period poverty: whoever decided that tampons and towels were non-essentials? I mean, really. There are changes that need to be made, but we do need to get over the basic inequality, first of all – it just goes on throughout life.

‘So the cost of being a woman financially, physically, emotionally, starts when you’re young and carries on right through.

‘The key to all this is more women in Parliament. There are still too few women MPs – I think it’s only 32 per cent. That’s not enough. A lot of the inequalities come from the fact that women are not making the law.’

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