Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2002
140. Given that, do you think there will be
some argument to spend some of the £34,000 you spend on each
inmate on giving them a proper education to exclude children wandering
around committing crime and not attending school? At least if
it is not your money, that would be a great investment that would
reduce your costs considerably.
(Mr Narey) Yes, I would welcome that. I think a significant
reduction in the numbers excluded from school would have downstream
effects for the prison population which would be very welcome
141. In terms of jobs and work, it is the case
that once a prisoner leaves your hospitality or whatever, he then
has this problem, as you say, of one week's benefit, a problem
with accommodation. If he has broken his family links because
he has been banged up miles from his home and his wife has met
somebody else while he has been in prison, if he does not get
an immediate job he is likely to reoffend, is he not?
(Mr Narey) I agree.
142. You are spending an extra £30 million
on trying to encourage job offers, is that right?
(Mr Narey) Yes, we are doing a lot of work with a
lot of help in very recent months really from the Employment Service
to try to make it easier for people to get jobs. I mentioned,
for example, our installation of electronic job centre kiosks
in prisons so even if somebody is away from home, somebody from
Croydon who might be in Manchester even, they can find what jobs
are going in the Croydon job centre down the line.
143. Can I focus now on the amount of investment
in training and the like in short term prisoners that Mr Steinberg
focused on. I have to say it does seem to me intuitively that
putting more and more money into long term people who probably
have been established as prisoners as opposed to intensive retraining
or education for short term prisoners is completely the wrong
way round. It seems to me that those prisoners who go in for a
short period of time, if they have got no opportunities to retrain
or re-education or to apply properly for jobs to ensure that they
get a job immediately on leaving prison, the probability of them
reoffending is massively increased and subsequently over time,
when reoffending, they increase the probability of never getting
a job and ending up as a long term prisoners. Would you not agree
that we should review the focus of investment in training, our
personal presentational skills, basic literacy and numeracy, etc,
towards first time relatively short term offenders?
(Mr Narey) I would love to do that and, indeed, our
performance, interestingly, for first time offenders is very good.
The proportion of first time offenders sent to custody who are
reconvicted within two years is I believe only 17 per cent. The
problem with short term prisoners, as I mentioned before, isand
I am very careful to say this particularly in front of sentencers
because I do not want people to be sent to prison for longerwe
have to have them long enough to make a difference. Even moving
someone up educationally it means they have got to spend, my teachers
tell me, typically between six and eight weeks before we will
effect a move in their literacy or numeracy ability from one level
to another. We are not excluding them. Those short term prisoners
do get the benefit of detoxification, not drug treatment programmes
but counselling and assessment and perhaps referral to a community
agency for drug prevention and we will start some work on literacy
and numeracy. There is a big dislocation at the moment, I am afraid,
between the number of people who start education with us and leave
us with the job unfinished and the numbers who will go into education
when they go out.
144. It seems to me from what you are saying
the mainstream of children obviously are in school all the time
and in some sense they are incarcerated in school being taught.
Then there is this group of children who are basically roaming
around without those confines who then find themselves in your
hands. You are not allowed to keep them long enough to make up
for the loss of time in their education to make them go down the
straight and narrow. Is that reasonable?
(Mr Narey) Some of them we are but for those sentenced
to a very short period of time we can only begin to start the
work. We will frequently put short sentence prisoners into education
but we will not do enough to significantly affect their employability
which is why I personally would very much welcome the proposals
in the Halliday Report for a much closer working relationship
between us and probation so that very short periods in custody
will be followed by community supervision which might include,
for example, attendance at college.
145. Given that I have been focusing on the
issues of continuous accommodation, access to work and social
networks, all those seem to lend themselves to supporting the
new initiatives of not having people stay in prison over the weekend
and maintain the accommodation, work and social networks. In your
thinking do you think that this will help reduce the level of
(Mr Narey) Weekend or mid-week imprisonment?
146. Weekend imprisonment?
(Mr Narey) Yes, I think it would. I think it would
be attractive to sentencers, particularly for women prisoners
who are married who would be allowed to spend some time at home
looking after the children. I think it would make a very big impact
on the women themselves and the future of their children.
147. I do not know whether you have got the
figure on homelessness?
(Mr Narey) Yes, I have.
148. I am interested if you have got a figure
for mental health because I think it is well known how many prisoners
you have got with mental health problems.
(Mr Narey) Forty per cent are homeless on release
and homeless ex-prisoners are two and a half times more likely
(Mr Newcomen) And we have figures that two in five
males and almost four in five female prisoners have a neurotic
disorder. One in 14 males and one in seven females have a psychotic
disorder. Those are very significant numbers.
149. Can I very briefly turn to the issue of
if you claim you are innocent you are excluded from programmes.
Mr Narey mentioned the problems with sex offenders, and I appreciate,
that but with non-sex offenders do you not feel that there is
a strong argument that these people should have the opportunities
afforded to others?
(Mr Narey) They should and they are doing. There is
only one course for non-sex offenders which is excluded to those
who deny their guilt. All other courses, all the cognitive skills
courses, the vast majority of our offending behaviour programmes
and, of course, all drug treatment courses and education are open
to all offenders irrespective of whether they accept their guilt.
150. The report focuses on you are doing more
behaviour programmes, 1,400 to 6,000, but there is enormous regional
variation in all sorts of areas. Are you looking to bench mark
and push forward best practice so that there is some level of
equal opportunity of recovery, if you like, wherever you happen
to commit your offence?
(Mr Narey) I think if I were to produce a map now
which showed the distribution of those courses you would already
see a step improvement from the time when this research was done.
Geraint Davies: Thank you very much.
151. Mr Narey, the last time you came before
us, at least the last time I asked you any questions, the last
question I asked you, got one of the most fascinating answers
I have ever had. I asked you whether you thought that you would
be able to save society any more money in the long-term if you
could spend more money on educating those who were in prison and
you said simply "yes" and you have repeated that in
different ways a lot this afternoon, which is very interesting
and encouraging. What is your evidence for that?
(Mr Narey) Evidence based on international research
of offenders leaving prison who have made educational improvements,
about going into jobs and having reduced offending. Research from
analysis based on huge samples in different jurisdictions suggests
that improving education might reduce reoffending by between,
I think, ten and 14 per cent typically.
152. How much more could you spend and still
make it cost-effective? You cannot go on spending forever, you
will get to the point where you have done everything you usefully
(Mr Narey) The reality now is other than for those
aged 17 and under, who I think get a reasonable provision for
education, I am spending not remotely enough for all other age
groups. I could spend many millions more and I could spend it
not just quickly but effectively.
153. Do you have a figure of how much more you
think you could spend and still be cost-effective?
(Mr Narey) Just for the 18-20 age group alone in work
that I have been doing very recently, not least with the Social
Exclusion Unit, I think a figure of between 50 and 80 million
a year would allow us to significantly improve the life chances
of that age group by trying to replicate for them the improved
regimes which we have already offered to those who are 17 and
under. If you are 18 and a day you are going to get a much worse
deal if you go to prison than if you are 17 and 51 weeks.
154. The Government has a spend to save programme,
are you covered by that at all? Can you get any money out of it?
(Mr Narey) We have got some money from programmes
such as that and we are currently bidding for some money which
I hope will help us to expand education from the Capital Modernisation
Fund, which is a very similar initiative. Overall, in terms of
trying to compete for broad investment significant to improve
prisons and to address the issues of reoffending then I have got
to compete with all other Government services in the current spending
review and I am making the best case that I can but it will be
155. You seem to think that your return on investment
will be pretty high.
(Mr Narey) I think it would be dramatic, I think we
have demonstrated that. When you talk about the downstream effects,
I think we can show through cost benefit analysis that turning
somebody away from crime through the sorts of programmes we offer
might offer a cost benefit of about three to one. I think the
money invested, particularly on young people who might be offending,
even if they grow out of offending, might be offending
156. What you seem to be telling us is that
you have a project here on which you can get a three to one return
and yet for some reason you are not currently able to get that
money out of the spend to save programme.
(Mr Narey) The position at the moment is although
I have been able to dedicate significant investment in recent
years to these programmes I do not believe I am doing much more
than playing at the edges. I have demonstrated with one age group
that we can make a dramatic difference and I would love the chance
to do it with another age group but I would need significant investment
in the current spending review.
157. You said earlier in response to the Chairman
that the sums spent are shockingly low. In fact, I think it was
the Chairman who suggested that and you agreed with him.
(Mr Narey) For those aged 17 and under I would agree
158. To what extent do you have the power to
vary that or are the budgets set in a way that you cannot choose
whether you spend more on education and less on other things?
(Mr Narey) No, there is a great deal I can do. I would
own up to the fact that we can and must continue to make the Prison
Service a more efficient and effective service. I think I can
159. Why are you not doing those things, giving
more money to education?
(Mr Narey) I would argue that I have. As I have explained,
most of the money which has been dedicated to me for programmes,
education and drug treatment, although it has been an exchange,
I have found by making the service more effective. I have been
reducing the budget in cash terms by one per cent year on year.
This is my third year