Poll after poll has shown a public desire for a tougher government policy towards crime and punishment, which is at odds with the ‘soft touch’ attitude practiced by the authorities in the UK and other West European countries.

Nevertheless, it is to be hoped there will be public support for the action by Virgin Trains in considering offering jobs to prisoners nearing release – interviews recently took place at Addiewell prison in West Lothian.

Reoffending rates in this country are horrendous and the current approach by the authorities to rehabilitation has patently failed.

Over time, billions of pounds have been wasted on various initiatives which rarely produced the results intended – perhaps because the ‘professionals’ involved tend to be left-liberal types who see prisoners as much victims as those they have wronged (either physically or financially).

By offering real jobs in a market-related environment, which calls for self-discipline and personal responsibility, Virgin Trains may be doing more for ex-prisoner esteem than all the public policy ‘initiatives’ – with their attendant psychobabble – conducted by social workers.

A risk? Of course but surely no more of a risk than returning a prisoner to society still with a chip on his shoulder and, consequently, more than likely to reoffend in the near future.

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