Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
MP, MR MARTIN
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2001
60. What it does have to do is liaise with those
agencies in the outside world in advance of somebody being propelled
into the outside world because those people are going back to
the circumstances that brought them in anyway very often.
(Beverley Hughes) Absolutely and certainly as a politician
like yourself I am acutely aware of that and that is why it has
got to be seen in the context of public protection and reducing
crime. If we are sending people out very much in the same state
as they came in they are going back to communities, they are going
to commit more crimes in those communities and create more victims.
It has to be part of that agenda. The Joint Inspectors' Report
on Resettlement and the Social Exclusion Unit Report has also
highlighted the need for that interface, and I would argue not
just the interface between somebody going from custody back into
the community but actually starting at the point pre-sentence
where agencies in the community liaise with prison and then back
again, the "through the gate" conceptthat interface
has got to be much stronger and much more seamless in terms of
the experience of the offender. There is no reason why programmes
and education and so on started in prison should not continue
in a seamless way outside in the community. We are not there yet
but that is where we need to get to.
61. To what extent is it the resettlement officers'
job to establish some links in the outside world before that person
leaves the jail?
(Mr Sutton) We are beginning to make progress very
much along those lines. If I could mention one example. The Employment
Service has allocated an additional £1 million to ensure
that there is a proper tie up between the prison and the receiving
areas' job centres so the process of looking for a job can be
established with a guaranteed interview in the prisoner's home
area, and that is arranged as part of this programme before release.
That is one example of a recognition of the point that the Committee
is making. But we know that there is a tremendous distance to
travel. The extent to which we are dealing with problems of social
disadvantage with the prison population is becoming ever more
clear as we look at the resettlement agenda. Over one quarter
of prisoners were in care as children, which is 13 times the rate
of the general population. Almost four in five male prisoners
had been permanently or temporarily excluded from school, which
is clearly out of sync with the general population. Over two in
three prisoners were unemployed at the time of imprisonment. So
the extent to which we are dealing, as it were, not so much with
the problem of resettlement but with putting in place for the
first time some of the elements of resettlement that prisoners
require is becoming clearer and with it the task that we face
in joining up with the range of other agencies. We are making
progress, for example, just one further example if I may, we are
now with the Probation Service introducing offending behaviour
programmes that can start in prison and be continued in the community
post release. In that fashion we are beginning to make headway.
(Beverley Hughes) We do have a joint assessment process
now called Oasys which has been developed to be used across the
probation and prison estate. It is going to be operationalised
on a paper basis over the next year on probation moving towards
an IT model that can be applied in probation and prison. That
is the essential building block really because we can get some
shared assessment. The one thing the joint inspectors pointed
out is that everybody was reassessing from scratch the first time
they met a person, whereas one assessment can follow them through.
That is one important area of the joint work, but in terms of
picking up something in your question, I do think we need a model,
a concept or a framework within which more effective, tighter,
robust liaison working together across agencies can actually take
place and follow an offender through. The Social Exclusion Unit
team has been considering whether or not a case management approach
across services is actually going to be the best vehicle for doing
that. I very much welcome that. It is something we have alreadyprior
to the publication of our report, which I hope will come out in
the new yearbeen talking to the Probation Service and the
Prison Service about, as to how such a case management model might
62. I think you have fairly comprehensively
covered much of what I wanted to ask but there were one or two
specifics I would like to go into detail with you on. I think
in education, training and employment we can all agree if they
happen before somebody gets into prison it is obviously a much
better way of reducing the prison population than probably almost
anything else. However, we are stuck with the situation that we
have where half the prisoners do not have the qualification or
type of jobs you want them to have. You said that 12,000 have
achieved level 2 in literacy and numeracy last year 2000-2001
and that will be increased to 18,000 this year, and you have a
target of 36,000 by 2003-04. First of all, what percentage increase
was that 12,000 increase on the previous year?
(Mr Narey) I would have to dig out that figure and
write to the Committee.
I think it was about 7,000 the previous year so the 12,000 was
a very significant increase and in the year 2000 further still.
So much so, in fact, that I have been discussing with the Minister
whether or not the emphasis on level 2 (which I think is very
important) is beginning to distort performance in terms of driving
governors to get level 2 accreditations. This year I am beginning
to become convinced that we are concentrating rather too much
on that level and not pulling enough people through at entry level
on literacy and numeracy at level 1, and we need to make sure
that the targets we set fully reflect the educational needs.
63. Is that a hint that you will not be reaching
36,000 by 2003-04?
(Mr Narey) I think we will probably do more than reach
all the targets we have on the literacy and numeracy accreditations
and the increase this year shows what we can do when we set out
our stall to do it. I think if we get a more reasonable spread
of accreditations from entry level to level 2, there is a good
possibility if I get some of the investment from DFES, that I
will do rather more than my targets.
64. The Chairman mentioned the phrase that you
mentioned, Mr Narey, of "quality not quantity". When
we talked about purposeful activity, Mr Sutton was very keen to
tell us that this has been increased. I just wonder if we are
being absolutely accurate on that in that in the figures we have
suggested, that the number of hours available to each individual
prisoner has not increased.
(Mr Narey) The point that Mr Sutton was trying to
make is that over the last two years or so we have raised purposeful
activity by more than two million hours a week but the denominator
has gone up, so instead of getting to the point (which I would
like) where we have more than 30 hours, which we have in the juvenile
estate, we have only managed to keep pace and so it looks to the
outside world as if there is no more purposeful activity in prisons
than all those years ago. In fact there are millions and millions
more hours but the denominator keeps rising and absorbing that.
65. Is that an achievable target which you can
(Mr Narey) The current target is 24 hours and at the
moment, frustratingly, our performance is about 23.8 and this
year we will probably just miss the 24 hours because of the rise
in the population. I would not like to give any commitment for
what the level per prisoner will be until I know more about movements
in the population and investment. With our youngest prisoners,
those under 18, where we have had a very significant investment
from the Youth Justice Board the levels of purposeful activity
will exceed 40 hours next year, we hope, in education alone and
in education and other training activity every prisoner in our
care who is aged 17 and under will receive 30 hours of education
and training activity per week.
66. For the Committee's sake give us a picture
of what would need to be done to increase purposeful activity
by one hour per prisoner over the whole prison population?
(Mr Narey) We would need 68,000 additional activity
hours in the week spread over the whole population. I have been
very careful to avoid just quantity in reaching this target and
I have tried to concentrate on quality. I could have made this
target last year and this year if I had crammed workshops full
of prisoners. The target has not been reached in part because
rather than doing that I have made sure that prisoners have been
in literacy and numeracy classes which traditionally have had
no more than five or six in a class or in offender behaviour programmes
where there is a dozen, or in drug treatment programmes which
could be quite small. It would be very easy for me to say I could
reach any target if I crammed people into workshops which, frankly,
for the most part were not teaching skills that were going to
make very much difference to someone's employment. If we are going
to increase the hours and do things that make a difference then
that would require some significant additional investment and
I am grateful for the Minister's determination to try, if she
can, to give them that investment particularly for those aged
18 to 20 (in the wake of much better treatment for juveniles)
to make it a priority area.
67. How much is that investment roughly?
(Beverley Hughes) We have not yet got it, we have
got through the first sift of a bid under the Capital Modernisation
Fund to improve the estate in relation to 18 to 20s, but this
is also going to be, I hope, a major part of our bid under the
next spending review to secure the revenue that we need to make
sure we can deliver, as the Director-General says, the improved
regime and programmes for 18s to 20s. This was a Manifesto commitment
at the last Election and, as I said, it is going to be a major
part of our planned bid to the Treasury spending review.
68. I hope the Treasury will listen to manifesto
commitments, that is always a useful thing for them to do because
obviously 68,000 hours requires quite a number of teachers and
instructors, does it not, can you give us a rough idea?
(Mr Narey) For 18s to 20s to provide a regime with
the emphasis on education, drug treatment and so forth that we
would like, just for that age group, it probably requires somewhere
in the region of £20 or £30 million a year to provide
the extra teachers we need. We are very encouraged by the Capital
Modernisation Fund because that would give us new education blocks
so we have got the classrooms, but I still need the money to give
me the budget year-on-year to provide the teachers and so forth.
69. Is the Prison Service having any difficulty
recruiting teachers, as seems to be the case elsewhere?
(Mr Narey) Yes. We are not, for the most part, a very
attractive employer to those in the teaching profession and we
have to try to be much more flexible in taking on part-time staff
if we are to get the people we need. It is interesting that once
people come into prison education they often become entirely captivated
by it and stay, but getting people in initially is quite difficult.
Exactly the same applies in health care.
70. Mr Sutton says you are working on a strategy
for working with the voluntary sector.
(Mr Sutton) Yes.
71. Have you any examples of any work done with
the voluntary sector at all?
(Mr Sutton) There are countless examples of work that
we are doing with a whole raft of voluntary sector partnersNACRO,
SOVA. In referring to the strategy I was not meaning to suggest
that the collaboration with those partners was waiting the strategy,
but in future it would be more structured by that strategy which
we have recently agreed within the Prison Service.
72. Just finally on post-prison employment,
you did say, and I was pleased to hear it, that you do have contact
with the Employment Service. Does the Employment Service go into
prison and speak to prisoners? Does the job centre bring along
their little cards and say, "Here are the jobs available
in location X"? What follow-up do you do to ensure that they
have remained in employment?
(Mr Sutton) It is starting to happen. What we are
looking to do is look at a range of ways of involving outside
agencies. I mentioned the particular initiative of the Employment
Service, what they call Fresh Start, and that involves not the
Employment Service actually coming into the prison but making
sure that the prison staff, working with the Employment Service
people on the outside, arrange a guaranteed interview for the
prisoner post-release in the prisoner's home area, which is significant,
so we are looking at a variety of different patterns of working
with the Employment Service and others. Clearly where we can engage
with the Employment Service coming into prison, as they have done
in a number of our welfare to work pilots, that is extremely valuable,
but that is very labour intensive, so we are looking at a range
of ways of making sure that, when the prisoner is released, proper
arrangements have been made with his or her home area to pick
up on that, and we are not dependent on one particular model.
The contribution of the Employment Service there is very welcome
and it is a sign of the pattern of activity that we are seeking
to develop. There are other examples with the Benefits Agency
coming into prisons, for example, for similar reasons.
(Mr Narey) May I add to that. I am quite excited by
the possibility that this year working with the Employment Service
in a number of local prisons we will introduce electronic job
kiosks so a prisoner who is in a prison 100 miles away from home
will be able to log into a job centre in his home town and find
out what jobs are available there, which will be a big improvement
on what we currently do which is to try to replicate job centres
rather than linking people into the real job centres where they
are going to live.
73. Does anyone ever bring employers into prisons
to meet the prisoners and talk about the jobs available?
(Mr Sutton) That does happen. Again as part of our
"custody to work" initiative we will be building stronger
bridges to employers. We are particularly looking at a number
of sectors of the job market where we think it is more feasible
and realistic for prisoners to get into employment on release,
and we have recently initiated contact with construction industry
representatives, with industrial cleaning, with catering, with
the leisure industry, all sectors where we think there is a particular
contribution that we can achieve. So we are looking with the representative
bodies in particular in those industries to ensure we are making
the right contacts, bringing in employers to the prison where
that can help, but also making sure we are preparing the prisoners
for the kind of employment which these days they might expect
to get post-release.
74. Do you do any follow-up to check they are
still in employment a year after they have left prison?
(Mr Sutton) There is limited work, to be honest, at
the moment of that kind. As we introduce the new target of doubling
the number of prisoners going into employment post-release, there
will be stronger connections made. As we work with the Probation
Service more closely, there will be better contact and better
information available because we know that if we can get prisoners
into jobs which they hold they are twice as likely not to re-offend
than if that is not the case. So we know that we are making a
contribution to reduce re-offending when we can make that link.
But it is important, as I think your question suggests, it is
not just any old job on a first day which the prisoner might not
stay in, we have to look for employment which is stable employment.
75. Do you have a base line figure for April
2001 on which to base your target?
(Mr Sutton) No, we do not, Chairman. What we have
currently is an estimate from NACRO evidence that only 10 per
cent of prisoners discharged go into employment on release. We
have some research currently underway which will report in the
next few weeks from which we will be constructing a more accurate
base line, but for the moment we are dependent on that rather
76. So when do you anticipate having a base
(Mr Sutton) Within the next month.
77. Have you decided not to include a target
for re-offending as a key performance indicator?
(Mr Sutton) No, we are very much part of a target
of reducing re-convictions by 5 per cent over that same period.
The prison and probation programmes are key contributors to achieving
that target, so we are very much part of that. The employment
target will be part of it and has its own focus but it is not
at the expense of the contribution to the overall re-conviction
78. Can anyone tell me how many hours' purposeful
activity per day or per week would a man of 19 have at Feltham
(Mr Narey) I think I can tell that reasonably
accurately, Mr Malins. I will correct it if I am wrong. It is
about 18 or 19.
79. You wrote, Mr Narey, and told us it was
14.9 in the spring, do you accept that 18 or 19, if that is the
case, is very low and it ought to be effectively upped by at least
50 per cent in the next six months?
(Mr Narey) I would love it to be upped by that percentage.
I think when I wrote to you I said 14 was an improvement. Feltham
is an establishment of contrasts. The side dealing with those
under 18 is excellent.
11 See Appendix, Ev. 25 Back
See Appendix, Ev 25. Back