Reoffending and rehabilitation


Around half of all crime is committed by people who have already been through the criminal justice system. The cost to the taxpayer of reoffending is estimated to be £9.5 to £13 billion per year.

Reoffending has been too high for too long, despite significant government spending on offender management in the last decade. There has been little change in reconviction rates and almost half of those released from prison go on to reoffend within 12 months.

We need to reduce reoffending to reduce both the number of victims and the costs to the taxpayer. To achieve this, we need a tough but intelligent criminal justice system that punishes people properly when they break the law, but also supports them so they don’t commit crime in the future.


We will achieve this by:

  • using a ‘payment by results’ approach to develop and implement effective ways of rehabilitating offenders and rewarding providers that devise and deliver the most effective rehabilitation programmes

  • providing effective community-based punishments, such as the wider use of electronic tagging

  • providing more meaningful and productive work and training for prisoners while in prison

  • preventing drug abuse inside prisons and providing drugs counselling after release, or when serving a community sentence

  • engaging drug misusing offenders as early as possible in their contact with the criminal justice system, from drug testing on arrest through to post-release care

  • using integrated offender management to better manage offenders by getting partner agencies to work together

  • supporting offenders to resettle in their communities, to become more employable and find work

  • on behalf of victims, establishing a clearer basis for restorative justice

We’ll also keep our communities safe by extending the offences that the police can prosecute and speeding up justice

The Positive Futures programme, which helped keep young people away from crime, is now being managed at a local level.


Punishment is an essential part of the justice system, but on its own it does not stop people reoffending. Almost half of all adults leaving prison are reconvicted within a year.

For those serving short sentences, the figure is even higher. The same criminals repeatedly pass through the courts, prison and community sentences, creating new victims of crime and extra costs to the taxpayer.

Who we’ve consulted

In December 2010, we published ‘Breaking the cycle’, a green paper which included plans for payment by results pilots and a commitment to apply these principles to all providers by 2015.

We also ran a consultation ‘Punishment and Reform: effective probation services’ in March 2012. At the same time, we ran the consultation ‘Punishment and Reform: effective community sentences’.

We published a summary of responses to effective probation services consultation on 9 January 2013.

We published a consultation document ‘Transforming rehabilitation - a revolution in the way we manage offenders on 9 January 2013. The document explained our proposals to reform offender services in the community to reduce re-offending. The consultation closed on 22 February 2013.

We published the consultation response Transforming rehabilitation: a strategy for reform in May 2013.

Bills and legislation

The Offender Rehabilitation Act contains a number of measures about the release (and supervision after release) of offenders, the period for extended sentence prisoners, and community orders.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2010-12) contains a number of measures to protect the public and reduce reoffending.

The Crime and Courts Act which received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013, includes new measures to make community sentences more effective.