A lag's lament

It was not so much what was said as who said it. Clive Fairweather, chief inspector of prisons, was taking no prisoners as he laid into the sterile discussion that passes for debate on penal policy (page three). In truth there was little new in what he said, but it was the firmness of his view that education must hold centre stage that caused surprise.

Mr Fairweather laid unexpected emphasis on education, both as an ingredient in prevention and as an essential for the cure. Sighs of "here we go again" might be forgiven - schools must now rescue the prison service. This time, however, we have a precise and clinical recipe, as befits an old SAS lag: divert money from prisons to education and to early years education to be specific and to primary-secondary transition to be even more specific.

A consultancy surely awaits in his retirement.

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