Justice Secretary Chris Grayling Planning Longer Jail Sentences

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Criminals face longer spells in jail under plans being considered by the Justice Secretary.

Chris Grayling said he is attracted to a system that does not automatically release inmates at a certain point in their sentence regardless of how they have behaved.

The Tory minister also insisted he would not cut prison places, claiming falling crime rates were partly down to more offenders being locked up, according to the Daily Telegraph.

His comments come as a marked departure from policy under predecessor Ken Clarke, who suggested prison often proved "costly and ineffectual".

Grayling said: "Every police force will tell you when a serial burglar is behind bars their local burglary rate goes down.

He added: "What people don't particularly understand is why sentencing works in the way it does.

"If you get [sentenced for] 10 years, you're out after five automatically.

"It's not something that can be changed overnight, there are constraints on the system, there are constraints on prison places.

"Ultimately, I'm attracted by an option that doesn't simply automatically release you at a certain point, regardless of whether you've behaved well or not."

He has also sanctioned a review of prison conditions, questioning why some prisoners have access to luxuries such as Sky television.

Grayling conceded it was a "challenge" to make the idea of prison uninviting to criminals from "dysfunctional backgrounds", saying: "for some young people, prison is the first stable environment and so it is a challenge for us to make it an environment that they don't want to come back to."

The Justice secretary, who wants inmates to be met at the prison gate by a mentor to help them get their lives back on track, insisted rehabilitation was key to his reforms.

He said: "These are not areas where you can deliver radical reforms overnight, you have to work in a direction.

"My message would be that I get and understand concerns the public have over aspects of the system at the moment, and I will take whatever steps I can to develop and reform the system in a way that makes that possible.

"One of the areas where possibly we've got increased scope in the future in monitoring offenders is GPS tagging, where new technologies mean actually it's possible to watch an offender wherever they go."

Grayling also advocated a system of "payment by results" to reward voluntary organisations and companies that mentor and rehabilitate former criminals.