UK: 10,000 New Prison Places, More Stop-and-Search

(TELESUR) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given support to the police’s “stop-and-search powers” while also pledging to create “another 10,000 spaces” in U.K. prisons meaning new jails while also expanding the existing ones.

“… I am announcing today that in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales, we are making clear that the police can and should make use of their stop-and-search powers,” Johnson wrote in the Mail Sunday, adding that such a step was needed to combat crime.

Johnson also wrote that Finance Minister Sajid Javid has agreed to spend up to 2.5 billion pounds (US$3.01 billion) to create 10,000 additional spaces in prisons.

He insisted on tougher sentencing laws for “serious sexual and violent offenders,” as well as for those carrying knives.

“Yes, in the short term it will mean more pressure on our jails, and that is why today I am also announcing that we are creating another 10,000 spaces in our prisons,” the prime minister wrote in his column. The first new prison will be at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire.

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, criticized the move saying “random” stop-and-search is a “recipe for unrest.”

The stop-and-search was first introduced in seven police forces in March by the then home secretary Sajid Javid.

According to the current Home Secretary Priti Patel, “Stop-and-search works. We hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered.”

However, people fear the scheme will be misused and targeted towards Black people and other non-white minorities.

According to government data, in 2017-18, Black people were 9.5 times more likely to be searched than white people.

Last month the government promised 20,000 extra police officers to replace the lost ones.

“We know the greatest deterrent to crime is the perception of the likelihood of getting caught. Prevention is really what we’re after,” Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said Sunday.

However, he also accused the government of “economic irresponsibility,” because the government was “trashing money around the place like there is no tomorrow, aimed very specifically at very clear electoral targets.”