The Home Secretary today unveiled the Government's controversial new scheme which, he claims, will "revolutionise and streamline" the procedure for the detention of prisoners.
Outlining the new scheme at a press conference in Whitehall today, he revealed that, under this new system, prison officers are removed from the prison admissions procedure completely and prisoners are instead provided with a "Custody Admission Pass" by the Court. They must then make their own way to their designated prison and check in electronically within 12 hours of sentence, with any prisoner failing to check in on time being fined up to £500.
"We have been soft on criminals for too long," said the Home Secretary. "Prisons are not hotels. We cannot expect public officials to waste time mollycoddling lawbreakers. It's just not on. It's time that the prisoners were made personally responsible for these sorts of things and that our prison officers were freed up to do more important work, like filling in Form A34S68/D in triplicate and returning it to us. We've been waiting nearly two years on some of those."
The scheme has come under fire from many commentators, who claim that it has only been introduced as a desperate attempt to deal with a chronic shortage of prison officers, which had led to claims that some prisons were actually paying prisoners to guard themselves. There has also been controversy surrounding the acquisition of the check-in machines, with rumours that, rather than going through the official government tendering procedure, they were actually broken airport check-in machines stolen from a Ryanair skip at Heathrow.
The Minister strongly denied these allegations and attempted to focus on the positives with the scheme, particularly its perceived deterrent effect. "The deterrent effect is clear to see", he said. "All these criminals are a bunch of work-shy scroungers and we believe that the prospect of them having to do a bit of work for themselves for a change will scare them straight and prevent any re-offending."
The Minister went on to refer to the success of the original trial of this system in Estonia in 1998. "All the research there shows that this system is extremely effective in reducing offending," he said."Numerous studies have shown that the use of this system can reduce the prison population by up to 90% within ten years. You can't get much better than that."