Scrapping Ken Clarke’s liberal justice policy costs govt millions

By Charles Maggs

The Department of Justice will be unable to achieve cuts of £130 million after it scrapped Ken Clarke's liberal justice policies, according to a report.

A scheme to cut sentences for criminals who plead guilty was cancelled when Chris Grayling was installed in the Ministry of Justice as a gift to the Tory right.

"The agency has yet to pin down a plan to get back on track," Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts, said."The task has been made even more difficult by the government's choice to limit reforms designed to combat what it describes as 'the unsustainable rise in the prison population'."

It was hoped the Clarke plan would reduce the length of sentences dished out in order make large savings and increase convictions.

The Department of Justice still aims to curb spending by £884m by March 2015.

With last year's riots putting an extra strain on jails, experts are worried that even the slightest change to the prison population could knock the Ministry of Justice's spending plans off course.

Observers are expecting Grayling to start several battles in the Ministry of Justice as he takes an altogether more right-wing approach to crime and punishment than his predecessor.

Grayling campaigned before the 2010 election as shadow home secretary promising to tear up the European Convention on Human Rights and replace it with a British Bill of Rights – a move strongly opposed by the Liberal Democrats.