A major gap which allows 45,000 short-term prisoners to leave prison unsupervised every year has been closed under a new law that has been brought into force.
From today anyone sentenced to more than a day in prison will receive at least 12 months rehabilitation on release. New probation providers from the private, public and voluntary sectors will provide an unprecedented level of support to those who are stuck in the revolving door of crime and prison.
There will be a new focus on life management, with mentors on hand to support offenders into housing, employment and substance abuse programmes, helping them address the root causes of their criminal behaviour.
The move is the cornerstone of the government’s wide reaching reforms to probation and is aimed at tackling stubbornly high reoffending rates that have barely changed in a decade. Currently almost 60% of prisoners released after sentences of less than 12 months go back to crime within a year, and this group get no statutory support to turn their lives around.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
For too long we have released prisoners back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets, and little else, in the hope they would sort themselves out – it’s little wonder things haven’t improved.
But now all this will change. For the first-time we will be giving all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation, instead of just leaving them to wander the streets and get on with it.
These reforms give us the opportunity to change thousands of lives through a new approach to reducing reoffending, creating a safer society with fewer victims.
Along with extending community supervision to virtually all offenders, a nationwide network of resettlement prisons is also being created that will see offenders managed by the same provider from custody into the community, ensuring a proper through-the-gate approach to rehabilitation.
Under this system, probation staff will be required to draw up a plan for an offender’s rehabilitation within the first few days of them entering prison. They will then continue to support that individual throughout their time in prison, and this will continue as they are released into the community. The focus of the new approach will be as much on helping ex-offenders to sort their lives out as on traditional supervision.