Bury St Edmunds: MP calls for ‘dayglo boiler suits’ for offenders

CONVICTED criminals should be made to wear Guantanamo Bay-style “orange dayglo boiler suits” with the word “offender” emblazoned on their backs, a Suffolk MP has said.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, made the outspoken comments in the House of Commons as he confronted a member of the government over whether the Ministry of Justice would go “soft” on criminals.

Currently many people given a community order carry it out under the community payback scheme, but it has faced criticism that it is does not appropriately punish offenders for their crimes.

As a result justice secretary Chris Grayling is drawing up proposals for a new scheme; the cabinet minister said in his conference speech last month that community punishments would “not be a soft option any more”.

But speaking in the Commons Mr Ruffley said: “Can I say to ministers in the Justice department that I hope they are not going to go soft on introducing an element of shame and real punishment in these new community penalties.

“I’m told that under community payback offenders might wear a yellow vest with the words ‘community pay-back’ on the back, and that these can be removed if the probation staff think it appropriate.

“Could I say to him that what we really need is community punishment where the offenders are in the community with orange dayglo boiler suites with the word ‘offender’ on the back, to inculcate some sense of shame and make these tough sentences not the soft ones we’ve had until now.”

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Justice minister Jeremy Wright said that the government was determined to ensure community sentences delivered punishment as well as “rehabilitation and reparation”.

The minister added: “I have a good deal of sympathy with what [Mr Ruffley] has just said. I have to say when I have been to see community payback within the community it is very evident that those carrying it out are offenders, they are easily identifiable.”