Justice Secretary queries value of short jail term sentences

By Gary Adair

The justice secretary David Gauke has suggested that there is a strong argument for abolishing jail terms of less than 6 months in favour of an approach that focuses more on rehabilitation.

Mr Gauke proposes the use of community orders instead of short term prison sentences and says there needs to be a move away from the options of "soft" or "hard" justice, in favour of exploring options for "smart justice". That includes the GPS tagging of offenenders which is to be rolled out nationwide following an announcement at the weekend.

Mr Gauke says that increasing sentences is not the correct way to deal with concerns over crime, and that it was time for a "national debate about what justice, including punishment, should look like for our modern times."

The comments were received positively from charities working to reform penal policy, but were not popular among some MPS, with Conservative MP Philip Davies saying the proposal to abolish short terms was "bonkers". He suggested that community sentences were ineffective and often failed to stop re-offending.

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