Retailer Timpson has responded perfectly to Boris Johnson’s wish to see more offenders carrying out community services as members of “chain gangs”.

Launching the government’s crime plan yesterday, the Prime Minister sparked controversy after he said those guilty of anti-social behaviour should be in “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs” publicly paying for their crimes.

He told reporters: “If you are guilty of antisocial behaviour and you are sentenced to unpaid work, as many people are, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs visibly paying your debt to society. So you are going to be seeing more of that as well.”

But Timpson, which repairs shoes and cuts keys, engraves watches and repairs phones, among other things, had other ideas.

The retailer’s chief executive, James Timpson, questioned why government policy isn’t just to help reoffenders get real jobs instead:

Timpson knows a thing or two about supporting offenders. It employs over 600 prison leavers, which is over 10 per cent of the company.

Earlier this year, the company was praised after employee Jack Twigg, from Manchester, said it helped him after he struggled to find work for six months after leaving prison. He wrote on Twitter:

“Timpson offered me a trainee role which changed my life. Today I’ve been told from April 12th I’m officially a branch manager with my own shop”!

Meanwhile, James Timpson himself is the Chair of the Prison Reform Trust and supports various prison charities and support groups.

He was presented with an OBE in 2011 for the training and employment of disadvantaged people.

Responding to his suggestion, people praised him for his emphasis on rehabilitation:

In his announcement, Johnson also said that restrictions on stop and search powers that were eased by home secretary Priti Patel in 2019 to allow police to carry out searches 24 hours a day and on grounds of possible violence will be made permanent under the government’s crime plans.

These measures have been heavily criticised. Human rights groups including Liberty and criminal justice NGO Fair Trials told The Guardian the powers were “discriminatory” and “repeatedly lead to the racist profiling of Black and other racially minoritised ethnic groups”.

“They are not the only tool that we have got to use. They are part of a range of things we have got to do to fight street crime,” Johnson said.

“I think that giving the police the backing that they need in law to stop someone, to search them, to relieve them of a dangerous weapon I don’t think that’s strong-arm tactics, I think that’s a kind and a loving thing to do.

“The people who often support stop and search most passionately are the parents of the kids who are likely themselves to be the victims of knife crime.”

Illnesses spreading, chain gangs, and an obsession with Union flags. We are not quite sure if it is 2021 or 1821.

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