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Prison news cause for joy and concern
10:00am Saturday 7th September 2013 in Latest
The recent news about the closure of Dorchester Prison obviously gives cause for concerns – not least for those working at the prison who have done a fine job under difficult circumstances.
I am glad it seems clear there will be no compulsory redundancies, and jobs elsewhere within the Prison Service will be found for those who want them – I hope any staff working at the prison who encounter any difficulties in this respect will make contact with me right away.
There are also obvious issues for prisoners and their families – and we certainly need to make sure the new configuration of prisons in Dorset enables the resettlement of prisoners to be carried on effectively, with prisoners being close enough to home for that.
But the inevitable difficulties of transition should not blind us to the underlying good news that the prison population and hence the need for prison places has been reduced by the fall in crime that has been taking place in the last few years.
I remember being told some years ago by an experienced market-watcher that the very same piece of news, which would be regarded as a cause for celebration in a ‘bull’ market when everyone is filled with optimism, would be regarded as cause for concern in a ‘bear’ market when everyone is filled with anxiety.
I think the same broadly applies to media coverage and popular sentiment in other spheres. When people are still recovering from recession, there is a considerable tendency to regard any piece of news whatsoever as a cause for concern – and to ignore the good news that lies underneath.
In this case, we should be glad not only that crime is falling but also that there is now a quite exciting development opportunity in Dorchester, which should provide jobs and wealth for the town.
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