David Ruffley MP urges Ministers not to go soft on community sentencing

Wednesday, 14 November, 2012

On the floor of the House of Commons 13 November, David Ruffley MP challenged Ministers not to go soft on community sentences.

A full text of the exchange between Mr Ruffley and the Justice Minister, Mr Jeremy Wright MP is as follows:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright):

The Government are determined to ensure that community sentences deliver punishment, rehabilitation and reparation. We are legislating to require courts to include a punitive element in every community order, as the public would expect, and to enable the electronic tracking of offenders.

Mr Ruffley:

I hope that Justice Ministers will not go soft on introducing an element of shame and real punishment in these new community penalties. I am told that under community payback offenders might wear a yellow vest with the words “community payback” on the back, and that these can be removed if the probation staff think it appropriate. What we need are community punishments where offenders are in the community with orange dayglo boiler suits with the word “offender” on the back to inculcate some sense of shame and to make these tough sentences, not the soft ones we have had up until now.

Jeremy Wright:

I have a good deal of sympathy with my hon. Friend. When I have seen community payback in the community, it has been evident that those carrying it out are offenders. They are easily identifiable. That is partly for the reasons he gives, but it is also to ensure that people in the community understand that work is being done to repair some of the damage that these offenders have done in the communities where they are working.

David Ruffley MP commented:

“The Minister’s reply was that he had great sympathy but his version of “Community Payback” is not tough enough. We need to impose a sense of shame in community sentencing.

I want to make sure that every offender wears orange boiler suits with the word ‘Offender’ on the back.

We need to shame offenders on community sentences, which at present are seen as a soft touch by criminals and law-abiding citizens alike.

It is time for the new Justice Minister to show that he doesn’t just talk tough but he acts tough too.”