Sentencing U-turn confusion dubbed 'a mess of the Government's own making'

The Coalition Government's latest policy U-turn, this time on sentencing, is indicative of a lack of a strategic and coherent comms policy, observers have claimed.

David Cameron: 'needs to act more decisively'
David Cameron: 'needs to act more decisively'

Later today, PM David Cameron is expected to drop plans that would have enabled criminals to serve only half of their sentence by pleading guilty.  

Head of editorial at Lewis PR, David Brown, said: ‘This is a mess of the Government’s own making. Compromise is all well and good, but this is yet another U-turn which underlines the fragility of the Coalition. Cameron needs to act far more decisively and strategically if he wants to avoid becoming Dithering David.’

Pagefield Partner, Sara Price said: ‘Whether or not you agree with the original policy, there are some important lessons here about how it was handled. The Government should ensure that they have allies on board, third party endorsers lined up and messaging sorted out.’

Currently, jail sentences can be reduced by 33 per cent if a defendant pleads guilty at the earliest opportunity.

However, proposals to extend this to 50 per cent came under heavy criticism, especially after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke seemed to suggest that some rape cases were more serious than others. Clarke was later forced into an apology after a widespread public backlash.

Price concluded: ‘Proper consultation and a comprehensive approach to stakeholder relations should be the Government’s standard MO for communication policy, not an approach they are forced into by public criticism.’

The Government has previously been accused of performing policy U-turns over rubbish collections, forest privatisation, benefit reform and, most notably, NHS reforms after public and media pressure.

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