The most significant reforms to tackling reoffending and managing offenders in the community for a generation were set out today by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
Consistently high reoffending rates have led to the radical overhaul with almost half of all prison-leavers reoffending within 12 months - for those serving less than a year that figure rises to almost 58 per cent. And half a million crimes are committed by convicted crooks each year.
Under plans laid out in the consultation ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’, a new refocused and streamlined public sector service will be tasked with keeping the public safe from the most dangerous and high-risk offenders. Private and voluntary sector organisations will work together on closing the ‘revolving door’ of the criminal justice system by tackling lower risk offenders.
For the first time all offenders, including those serving less than 12 months, will be subject to mandatory supervision and tailored rehabilitation on release from prison.
The proposals call for a greater use of mentors who will meet offenders at the prison gate, supporting them in all aspects of their life from day one in the community, including help finding work and accommodation, tackling drug and alcohol addictions and addressing literacy and educational problems.
The new approach is expected to deliver steady year on year reductions in reoffending across England and Wales as the best from all sectors pool knowledge and resources to help break the cycle of crime.
Chris Grayling said:
‘What we do at the moment is send people out of prison with £46 in their pocket, and no support at all. No wonder we have such high levels of reoffending. It is madness to carry on with the same old system and hope for a different result.
‘We know across the public, private and voluntary sectors there is a wealth of expertise and experience - we need to unlock that so we can finally begin to bring down our stubbornly high reoffending rates.
‘Our proposals will see all of those sentenced to prison or probation properly punished while being helped to turn away from crime for good. They will also mean we only spend taxpayers’ money on what works when it comes to cutting crime.’
The new approach will see that private providers are only be paid in full if they reduce reoffending in their area through Payment by Results contracts. The proposals are intended to drive innovation and efficiency through the criminal justice system.
The paper sets out a strong role for the public sector Probation Service. It will focus on protecting the public by managing the most high risk offenders, including all serious sexual and violent offenders, providing advice to courts and making initial risk assessments on all offenders. The public sector will retain ultimate responsibility for public protection in all cases.
These proposals build on a previous consultation last year which set out plans to compete out probation services and increase the use of Payment by Results.
As part of these plans, we will see England and Wales divided into areas which align closely with Local Authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners. Private and voluntary sector organisations will then be invited to bid for work in these areas with each contract awarded based on best value and innovation in tackling reoffending.
We intend to set out our final reforms in the spring with the roll-out across England and Wales by spring 2015.
To help support the proposed reforms, Government will be launching a nationwide ‘Justice Data Lab’. Organisations working to rehabilitate offenders at a local level will have access to high-quality reoffending data specific to the group of offenders they have been working with. This will allow them to focus only on what works, better demonstrate their effectiveness and ultimately cut crime in their area.
We are also providing £500,000 to voluntary and community sector groups to ensure they are ready to begin bidding for services.
This work follows reforms to community sentences so each one contains an element of punishment and the roll-out of work in prisons so offenders have a better chance of finding employment on release.
Notes to editors:
- View the consultation ‘Transforming Rehabilitation - a revolution in the way we manage offenders’.
- Read a copy of the previous consultation document ‘Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation services’.
- See further details on our community sentence proposals.
- Read further details on our work in prisons programme.