THIRD REPORT (HC 486): ALTERNATIVES TO
Published 10 September 1998. Government
Response (Cm 4174) received 7 December 1998
The target average for purposeful activity per
prisoner remains at 24 hours a week. Prisoners have spent an average
of 23.6 hours per week for the current year to date. Ministers
have not yet agreed the target for 2001-02.
As part of the Government's aim to reduce crime
and re-offending, a programme of work has been put in place which
includes: the introduction of new and more effective forms of
sentence for juvenile and adult offenders; more rigorous enforcement
of community penalties; greater use of electronic technology;
drug testing to monitor the behaviour of offenders under criminal
justice supervision; and the development of programmes in custody
and the community which are known to reduce re-offending. Many
of these issues are addressed in the Criminal Justice and Court
Services Bill currently going through Parliament.
In May of this year, the Home Secretary announced
a review of the sentencing framework. The Review is examining
the foundations of the existing sentencing framework, including
the possibility of more flexible sentencing options that make
better use of custodial and community sanctions. It will report
to Ministers in May 2001.
The average occupancy in approved hostels for
the financial year ended 31 March 2000 was 86 per cent, a further
increase from the previous year. A target of 90 per cent occupancy
has been set for this financial year. However, it is important
that hostels continue to bear in mind local considerations, and
make careful risk assessments when agreeing to accept residents.
High occupancy levels, while important, should not be seen as
the overriding consideration.
The sentencing of offenders is a matter for
the courts alone. The number of offenders being sentenced to a
probation order with a condition of residence in an approved probation
and bail hostel has not changed significantly over the last two
years. In 1998, probationers made up about 20 per cent of residents
in approved hostels, licencees about 12 per cent, and bailees
about 65 per cent. The position for the first six months of this
year, is that probationers make up about 19 per cent of the total
residents, licencees 27 per cent, and bailees 51 per cent.
Funding is available from the CSR settlement
for five new approved hostels to be built over the next three
years, subject to local planning permission.
A research programme (known as a Pathfinder)
is being run to establish a model of effective practice for offenders
resident in approved hostels.
The Probation Service IT systems is currently
under review. We are examining if it would be cost effective to
link the current probation systems to those of the police, given
the expectation that they will be changed. A recent survey of
probation areas found that most services were content with the
way in which the current procedure for obtaining PNC printouts
from the police was operating.
New evidence of the success of offender programmes
designed to reduce recidivism has started to become available.
This will continue as programmes run as part of the Probation
Service's What Works strategy and the Prison Service's Offending
Behaviour Programme are evaluated.
Accreditation of programmes based on evidence
of effectiveness at reducing re-offending lies at the heart of
the programmes being run by both services. The Joint Prison and
Probation Accreditation Panel, which includes leading international
academics in the field, has already accredited a number of general
offending programmes: Think First, Reasoning and Rehabilitation,
Enhanced Thinking Skills, and Cognitive Self-Change; and
Sex Offenders. Two Prison Service programmes have also
been accredited. Five further programmes have received provisional
accreditation and will be expected to gain full accreditation
following some revisions.
Typically, the effect found for evidence based
programmes is a 10 per cent reduction in reconvictions, though
some programmes have been shown to be capable of reducing expected
re-offending by as much as 25 per cent. The first report in a
series of studies of programmes in the probation service has found
a 14 per cent difference in the re-offending rates of offenders
completing the Aggression Replacement Therapy programme at the
one year point. This is in line with expectation based on earlier
literature reviews and is encouraging.
The evaluation for the What Works strategy will
look at the long term changes in reconviction rates and in the
short term at changes in personal characteristics known to be
associated with a reduced risk of re-offending. Independent researchers
will conduct the evaluation and key results are scheduled to be
published by summer 2001.
Crime Reduction Funding for the evaluation of
the Probation Service's offender programmes amounts to £340,000
in 1999-2000 and £507,000 in 2000-01. Some 22 programmes
are included. A number of other research projects are examining
effectiveness in other areas such as work with black and Asian
offenders, and case management schemes.
New National Standards for the Supervision of
Offenders in the Community, introduced in April of this year,
require services to ensure that they have a strategy to inform
both sentencers and the general public about their work and the
services that they provide.
Earlier in the year, the Government made a grant
to an organisation called Payback in connection with the promotion
of community sentences. Payback is a voluntary organisation which
generates many ideas for publicity for community penalties. It
has been asked to produce two specific products: a compilation
of "good news stories" about probation which could be
placed in appropriate media; and a research project to establish
best practice in promoting community sentences and to produce
publicity materials to support that. Funds have also been provided
for it to act as a resource to supplement the communications and
public relations work the probation service already does.
The focus in the media on sex offenders has
provided the opportunity to promote effectiveness of the probation
service with high risk offenders by ministers, officials and local
The research and statistics work outlined in
the original Government response is in train, as is the work to
refine and improve the quality of the information collected. Under
the Crime and Reduction Programme local evaluation teams are gathering
costs data which is fed into the centre as part of the process
for measuring outputs and outcomes. More generally, the whole
Department is moving to resource accounting.
As already mentioned, new National Standards
were introduced earlier this year. Representatives of all criminal
justice interests, including sentencers, were involved in their
determination. The Government took this opportunity to tighten
the standards for enforcement of community sentences so that offenders
should be returned to court no later than a second unacceptable
failure to comply rather than, as previously, the third such failure.
The Committee was particularly concerned about
the probation service's performance on enforcement. The Government
shares this concern and, in response to the Home Secretary's criticisms,
ACOP commissioned two national audits that were undertaken by
the Criminal Policy Unit, South Bank University. The results were
validated by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation.
The results of the first audit, undertaken on
cases commencing in March 1999, showed that on average only 44
per cent of cases were breached in accordance with National Standards,
plus in a further 7 per cent of cases a decision not to breach
was properly authorised by management. ACOP acknowledged that
this was unacceptable and undertook to improve practice. The results
of the second audit, on cases commenced in September 1999, showed
a welcome improvement with an average of 62 per cent of cases
dealt with according to the Standards plus a further 4 per cent
of cases with management authorisation not to breach.
There is still considerable room for improvement
for all services to achieve the 90 per cent KPI. A third enforcement
audit is to be undertaken shortly which should demonstrate that
progress in this area is being maintained.
Full reports of the two enforcement audits mentioned
above have been published.
The Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
are conducting a preliminary study into whether enforcing National
Standards has any impact on reconviction rates. The results are
expected to be published in early 2001. HMIP has conducted a study
of enforcement practice in community sentences.
The new format of National Standards was designed
specifically to facilitate change where necessary. The Home Office
is currently preparing a National Standard for the drug treatment
and testing order.
The Committee also mentioned that consideration
should be given to reworking that funding formula for local probation
services to provide an incentive for them to meet enforcement
targets. A performance link is being put into the funding formula
and one of these factors will be performance on enforcement.
From April 2001, warrant enforcement will be
the responsibility of Magistrates' Courts Committees, who will
be free to contract out that responsibility should they so wish.
The change should result in greater efficiency as the police are
not able to give warrant enforcement a high priority given the
other demands on their resources.
The Government proposes to change the punishment
regime for breach of a community sentence. Clause 50 of the Criminal
Justice and Court Services Bill would have the following effect:
having found the breach to have occurred,
the court would first decide whether or not, notwithstanding the
current breach, the offender's response to the sentence as a whole
were such that it were likely that the order would be successfully
if it did consider that it were likely
that the order would be successfully completed the court would
allow the order to continue; AND
it would be under a duty to punish
the breach by imposition of a community service order, curfew
order or (where the offender were of an appropriate age) attendance
centre order; but
if the court did not think there
were such a likelihood that the order would be successfully completed,
it would be required to send the offender to prison. The maximum
sentence would be three months unless the court took the view
that were it re-sentencing for the original offence it would impose
a longer period of imprisonment. If so, the longer period would
Those offenders who were aged under 18, those
cases where there were exceptional circumstances, and those offenders
who failed to comply with a requirement to abstain from specified
Class A drugs, would not be subject to imprisonment for breach.
In dealing with these cases, the courts would be obliged to impose
one of the alternative community sentences as a penalty for breach.
The Government believes that these proposals
strike a balance between taking firm and consistent action against
breaches whilst allowing the court to take account of the circumstances
of each individual case. The clause would also allow the court
to impose a custodial penalty on an offender whose original offence
was not imprisonable, which answers one of the particular concerns
of the Committee.
A national What Works strategy for the Probation
Service was published in September 2000 and its successful implementation
is one of the three principal objectives for the service over
the next three years. Substantial funding has been obtained under
SR2000 to finance What Works methods, and a very extensive national
training programme has begun to re-skill the work force. Targets
of 30,000 offenders completing accredited offending behaviour
programmes and 12,000 completions of basic skills programmes have
been set for 2003/04.
What Works principles should flow through everything
that the Probation Service does and the new National Standards
are predicated on them. The Standards require that supervision
be designed for a specific purpose, for example, supervision plans
should say what use is to be made of accredited programmes and
provide clear targets for progress.
National Standards clearly set out the information
to be included in a pre-sentence report, including a conclusion
which should, inter alia, "make a clear and realistic proposal
for sentence designed to protect the public and reduce re-offending,
including for custody where this is necessary".
The SR2000 settlement was successful in obtaining
additional resources to lift the CSR baseline to meet the continued
growth in workload. Funding was also obtained to finance the additional
costs of breach proceedings following more rigorous enforcement.
By 2003/04, the number of front line service delivery staff will
increase by one third, ensuring that areas are adequately resourced.
The Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill
introduces the Government's proposals for a National Probation
Service. A unified service for England and Wales will be created,
so that all 42 service areas will be led from a national headquarters
within the Home Office. This will make it possible to define more
clearly what is required of service areas; to hold them properly
accountable for delivering it; and to make it easier to spread
the best practices around the country.
Sentencers visit probation centres and community
placements as part of their training. The Lord Chancellor's Department
is looking at the question of visits made by sentencers with a
view to putting them on a more regular footing.
Nationally, a series of probation seminars has
been taking place with the Judicial Studies Board to promote effective
practice to sentencers.
The work being undertaken to make the work of
the Probation Service more widely known and understood has been
mentioned above. The Service also has a commitment to the publication
of research and the dissemination of effective practice.
As to informing the public about sentencing
decisions, from October magistrates will be required to give the
reasons for their decisions in open court in the criminal courts.
In order to promote greater understanding about
community sentences, the Government has proposed in the Criminal
Justice and Court Services Bill that probation orders, community
service orders and combination orders should be re-named as, respectively,
community rehabilitation orders, community punishment orders,
and community punishment and rehabilitation orders.
Curfew orders were made available nationally
from 1 December 1999.
The review of the sentencing framework is looking
at the possibility of combining a suspended sentence with non-custodial
orders, whilst taking account of the new arrangements for enforcement
of community sentences proposed in clause 50 of the Criminal Justice
and Court Services Bill.
Again, the sentencing review is looking at whether,
and if so how, the sentencing framework could include provisions
for intermittent custody, at any time of the day or week. The
operational and practical implications of any such scheme will
be taken into account, along with an evaluation of estimated costs
and possible benefits. The Government will consider the options
in the light of the report of the review.
The Government remains determined to improve
the enforcement of fines. In support of this aim, and as already
mentioned, responsibility for execution of warrants will transfer
from the police to the magistrates' courts on 1 April 2001. In
addition, a research project has been commissioned through the
Crime Reduction Programme to identify and encourage best practice
in fine enforcement and this work is making good progress. The
Government is also considering the possibility of allowing courts
to retain some fines income to fund further improvement in fine
The evaluation of the restorative cautioning
initiative in Thames Valley Police will not be completed until
2001. In the meantime, the Home Office is in contact with the
researchers conducting the evaluation.
Restorative justice is an area of particular
attention under the effective sentencing practices theme of the
Government's current Crime Reduction Programme. The Home Office
has commissioned an evaluation of the effectiveness of seven restorative
justice schemes nationally (not including the Thames Valley scheme)
and will be publishing the report from this study next year.
The Government recognises that restorative justice
has a potentially valuable role to play in addressing offending
behaviour and many of the recent youth justice reforms build on
restorative justice principles. The Home Office is now looking
at the available evidence and considering the case for applying
restorative methods more widely.
The Government recognised that additional resources
were required for the national implementation and operation of
the new range of youth justice services under the Crime and Disorder
Act 1998, that is the final warning scheme, reparation, action
plan, parenting and child safety orders. £22 million annually
has been built into local funding settlements from April 2000
onwards to bring the new range of youth justice orders and interventions
The arrangements for youth offending teams and
the new youth justice services were also piloted in 10 areas over
an 18 month period to identify good practice and to assess the
costs and savings associated with the new measures. The available
financial information from the pilots, which were independently
evaluated, endorsed the original estimates and confirmed that
these provided an adequate basis for national implementation.
Additional resources have also been provided
through the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. The Board
has a development fund of more than £80 million over three
years from April 1999 to strengthen the local infrastructure of
youth justice services and intervention programmes delivered in
support of the new measures. This includes provision for bail
supervision and support schemes, offender intervention programmes
and crime prevention work. Funding has so far been provided for
265 offender intervention programmes and 124 bail support schemes.
The Government is also finalising the current
SR 2000 outcome for youth justice, and the priorities and provision
for 2001-04. The level of resources required to deliver the new
measures will continue to be monitored. One source for this will
be the analysis by the YJB of local youth justice plans.
Drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs) were
rolled out nationally on 1 October 2000 following successful piloting.
Under the CSR, £60 million has been made available for these
orders over the next three years. This includes the treatment
costs of around 6,000 orders in a full year. Two new accredited
programmes for substance misusers are being introduced which can
be incorporated into DTTOs. A target of 6,000 offenders completing
these programmes each year has been set for 2003-04.
The DTTO is designed to target drug misusing
offenders who are committing high levels of acquisitive crime
to feed a drug habit and will be made in cases where the offender
is assessed to be suitable and willing for treatment. Drug abstinence
orders and requirements are proposed in the Criminal Justice and
Court Services Bill for those offenders who do not have immediate
treatment needs or who are unwilling to undergo treatment.
Work led by the Department of Health is in hand
to ensure that treatment services have the capacity to cope with
any new demands resulting from new initiatives in the criminal
justice system or elsewhere. The Department of Health and the
Home Office are co-ordinating a recruitment campaign for drugs
workers, paid for by the confiscated assets fund. By April 2001,
up to 685 drug workers will have been recruited and trained.
A number of specialist pathfinder programmes
should receive accreditation by April 2001, including programmes
for women offenders.
There is emerging evidence that women have certain
criminogenic needs additional to those of male offenders, and
that these need to be addressed. These issues are currently subject
to Home Office research and future decisions on provision of probation
services for women will be taken when the results become available.
The Government recognises the importance of
preventative work with children and young people and especially
in identifying and working with those children and young people
at risk of offending.
One of the key objectives for the multi-agency
youth offending teams (YOTs) is their participation in crime prevention
initiatives and the integration of the priorities and objectives
of the youth justice plans with local Crime and Disorder plans.
The very nature of their work means that YOTs are able to identify
those children at risk of offending and work with them to promote
youth inclusion. Under the YJB's national standards, funding from
YOT partner agencies (police, probation, social services, education
and health) for preventive services should represent 2.5 per cent
of the overall YOT budget.
Moreover, the new youth justice measures implemented
nationally from 1 June 2000 allow more effective and earlier intervention
to occur to divert young people away from a life of crime. The
final warning scheme and new orders provide a more coherent basis
for intervention with young offenders and a clearer focus on tackling
the causes behind a young person's offending behaviour. The YJB
through its development fund of more than £80 million over
three years is helping to strengthen and reinforce local youth
justice services and intervention programmes.
In addition, the Youth Inclusion programme has
been established. It is an inter-departmental programme managed
by the YJB. The programme focuses on 50 of the most at risk 13-16
year olds in disadvantaged neighbourhoods across England and Wales.
The aim is to reduce youth offending, truancy and school exclusion
by involving young people in more positive activities. The programme
is funded jointly by the YJB, Home Office, DfEE and DETR. There
are currently 50 schemes in operation and it is anticipated that
a further 20 will be coming on stream shortly. Projects include
improving the educational standards of at risk young people and
raising their employment prospects through training and qualifications,
mentoring, lunchtime and after school homework clubs, sports and
support services for parents and carers. The programme has funding
of £13.5 million to March 2002.
On Track has also been established which is
a long term crime reduction programme aimed at children aged between
4-12 at risk of becoming involved in crime. The programme is being
run in 24 areas and these are all in high crime and highly deprived
communities. Approximately £30 million has been set aside
for the programme for the current and next financial years. The
programme is expected to run for seven years. The objective will
be to establish a range of evidence-based preventive services
such as family support training, pre-school education, family
therapy and other specialist interventions. Families will be provided
with consistent services throughout the period of the child's
21 Hedderman, C. (1999) The ACOP Enforcement Audit-Stage
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Hedderman, C, and Hearnden, I. (2000) Improving Enforcement-The Second ACOP Audit London: ACOP. Back
The Use of Information by Probation Services. A Thematic Inspection
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enforcement practice in community penalties, 2000. Back