James Forsyth

What the riots mean for Ken Clarke

What the riots mean for Ken Clarke
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The more we learn about the riots, the more it is becoming clear that experienced criminals were responsible for a lot of the looting. The Standard reports today that in London a quarter of those charged in relation to the riots had already been convicted of ten or more offences. What remains to be seen is if these hardened criminals instigated the riots, or simply took advantage of them.

The involvement of these veterans of crime demonstrates the need both for better work on rehabilitating prisoners and for longer sentences to keep habitual criminals off the streets. The problem with Ken Clarke is that he, admittedly partly for budget reasons, only wants to see one side of this equation.

The riots have been overshadowed by the brewing financial crisis. But, given the economic outlook, dealing with the social problems identified by the riots is becoming ever more important to Cameron’s chances of re-election.