The thought of Labour's policy on knife crime, of sending anyone caught with a knife to prison for six months is ill thought through. Let's make no bones about it, folk shouldn't be wandering around carrying knives, but the way to deal with it isn't to send people to prison when the almost certainty is that they'll come out and do the same thing all over again.
There might be a case for drastic action if knife crime was going up - but it's fallen by more than a third due to initiatives like No Knives, Better Lives. There are still too many stabbings and deaths, and that has to be stopped. However, I'd rather see money being put into making sure these kids never get into the situation in the first place, on positive measures, rather than locking up thousands of young people every year.
Labour themselves don't seem to have much of a clue about how many extra prisoners their plans would create. There were 3194 convictions in 2009-10 for carrying a knife. Yet Iain Gray said on The Politics Show on Sunday that they'd only need 500 extra prison places. How does that compute? Do they really think that they are so persuasive that 84% of knife wielding thugs are just going to stop like that? Of course, Andy Kerr said around the same time that the figure was 1000, so they haven't a clue themselves. In any event, our prisons are packed to capacity anyway. Where exactly are we going to put all these people?
If we have proven, evidence based methods of reducing knife crime, are we not better using them than another Labour attempt at a quick fix? Remember these are the people who came up with ID cards which were vastly expensive and wouldn't have prevented any of the terrorist atrocities claimed.
And what do people in the know think about Labour's policy. Well, the assistant secretary of the Prison Officers' Association thinks it could compromise safety for both officers and prisoners and that it's just "not credible."
And then the Police Federation don't seem terribly impressed. General Secretary Calum Steele said:
It seemed strange to see Iain Gray so clearly on the ropes on one of his flagship policies the other day. If he can't even research the implications properly of his own stuff, how can he be expected to competently take decisions on a daily basis that affect us all?
This is all about Labour being seen to be tough on crime and nothing to do with actual, practical reality.