Welcome debate over jail sentences

THE assertion by the head of West Yorkshire Probation that the Government should scrap prison sentences of fewer than six months will divide opinion.

Mark Siddall is confident the move would save billions of pounds and cut crime rates.

His argument is that such sentences are long enough to see the offender lose his or her job, home and personal relationships but too short for the probation service's work with them to yield results.

What this debate essentially boils down to is whether sending someone to prison should be viewed as punishment or a chance to rehabilitate those who have broken the law.

In an ideal world it would be both, but as with so many things that is not always the case, despite the best efforts of bodies such as the probation service.

Too often jails become breeding grounds for increased criminality. Someone who goes in for a minor crime goes on to commit more serious offences upon their release.

In that sense it is easy to see why Mr Siddall supports community service orders, whose reoffending rates are almost half of those where a sentence of imprisonment is passed.

Nevertheless, sending offenders to prison at least removes them from our streets and in cases involving matters such as anti-social behaviour that is very important for their victims.

Whether you agree with them or not, Mr Siddall's calls for reform at least spark much-needed debate about how we can best tackle crime in this country.

On the up?

SLOWLY but surely, there are signs that our city is at last emerging from the doldrums.

And now a national think tank has lent credence to the view that the city's fortunes are finally turning the corner.

The Centre for Cities group says Leeds is "better-insulated" than most cities to weather the government's deep spending cuts.

It's true that Leeds has things other cities envy, yet there is also a great deal of potential waiting to be tapped into when the downturn is over.

So shouldn't this vote of confidence from economic experts be cause for celebration?

Well, yes and no.

Welcome as this news is, we hope it's not now used as an excuse for the government to withhold much-needed financial support for the city.

Money that would both speed and support the recovery we are all waiting for.

Don's boys

WHO better to boost the campaign for a statue of Don Revie than the legends he managed?

All 11 surviving members of United's 1972 FA Cup-winning squad will reunite in aid of the YEP-backed appeal.

These boys were winners in their heydays. And we're willing to bet they won't settle for being on the losing side now, either.