Cut custody warns Beith

FEWER custodial sentences and better treatment for asylum seekers have been highlighted by the Liberal Democrats as two key domestic reform proposals.

Home affairs spokesman and deputy leader Alan Beith told the conference in Glasgow that putting more people in prison was not a solution to the country's crime problem.

He pointed out that 14 per cent of the country's women prisoners had been locked up for not paying TV licence fees.

And he added: “Imprisonment costs huge amounts of money and constantly increasing the numbers is criminally irresponsible when community sentences can be shown to have a better success rate.”

Beith was also highly critical of the Government's record in dealing with asylum seekers.

He said hundreds were detained for months and even years at great expense and in terrible conditions.

The Government's Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill also came under fire from Beith. He said the Government's modifications were “still damaging”.

Earlier, the conference agreed a motion for a raft of measures to improve the treatment of asylum seekers included “enforcement by the Home Office of its own instructions that asylum seekers should not be detained on mere suspicion as is often the case now”.