Stop focusing on ‘stranger danger’ - University of Portsmouth expert

SPEAKING Prof Mike Nash
SPEAKING Prof Mike Nash
From left, Paul Stanley, Jo Crisp, George Heasman, Mercedes Bevan, Luke Galea and Bethany Bevan from Highbury College

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CRIMINALS are being left free to re-offend by a justice system obsessed by dealing with the political fall-out from high-profile crimes, a Portsmouth professor has claimed.

And Prof Mike Nash, from the University of Portsmouth, said thousands of prisoners are being indefinitely detained, causing the system to be overwhelmed and unable to protect the public effectively.

He described this policy as nothing more than a ‘reassurance con’.

In a public lecture this week, Prof Nash will question whether the government is putting too much focus on reassuring a nervous public about ‘stranger danger’ rather than ‘real risks’.

Prof Nash, who worked in the probation service for 12 years, argues that 80 per cent of serious further offences are committed by low and medium-risk offenders while the system concentrates most of its resources on high-risk criminals. He believes this leaves large numbers of offenders supervised by less experienced and even unqualified staff.

Prof Nash said: ‘Our current system fails to distinguish between those who represent a real danger to society and those who are less likely to reoffend in a serious way. Around 20 years ago it was estimated that the UK had around 300 to 400 really dangerous criminals.

‘Today there are around 50,000 criminals on the UK’s dangerous offenders register and there simply isn’t the resource to make valid assessments of all of them. These numbers also do little to quell public fear.’