Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2002
160. You have now got to the point where you
need extra money in is what you are saying?
(Mr Narey) I need extra money in. Although we can
make the service more effective, and indeed we have made the service
so much more effective that the public sector has recently started
to beat the private sector in competitions for prisons, which
is unique, I believe I need more investment if I am going to transform
the prisons in the way I want to.
161. So how has the budget for education in
prisons varied over the last ten years?
(Mr Narey) I think until about 1998 spending remained
static or even fell a little in that period. It has been ring-fenced
since about 1998 and has now been transferred to the Department
for Education and Skills and is set to rise by about 21 per cent
over the next two years.
162. And has that risen in line with the population?
No, presumably not. I think you said earlier that your total budget
was up by 29 per cent over the last few years but the numbers
in prison had risen by 45 per cent.
(Mr Narey) In very recent years education spend has
risen and will, over the next couple of years, rise pretty significantly.
Since the early 1990s, for example, I know educational spend has
not kept pace with the rise in population.
163. I was interested in the question of non-completion
of courses. It appears that you do not have any data even for
those you transfer about how many courses are not completed. Is
(Mr Narey) I do not have data to hand. I can find
the data. I am confident that we transfer very few people who
are in the middle of offending behaviour programmes or drug treatment
programmes. We will regrettably transfer a lot of prisoners who
are on education programmes.
164. Paragraph 3.20 says "The Prison Service
has no data on how many prisoners are transferred whilst on courses
and therefore unable to complete them." That is correct,
is it not?
(Mr Narey) I am confident nevertheless from the two
key courses that we transfer very few prisoners. One of the reasons
I am confident about that is we task our governors and area managers
with reaching some pretty hard targets for getting people through
those programmes and our performance has increased very significantly.
165. To what extent are your courses modular?
You keep coming back to this point that it is very difficult for
the short-term prisoners because they go out of your care before
you have had a chance to get them through a course but you also
tell us that a lot of them then come back. It seems to me there
ought to be a case for saying the first time they come in they
do parts one and two, the second time they do part three and the
third time parts four and five. If you get them several times
you ought to be able to carry on that course.
(Mr Narey) Sadly that is the case with education.
We do get some prisoners who through a number of sentences improve
their education sentence after sentence to a point at which they
become quite able. You can do that, you can do that on a modular
basis. With offending behaviour programmes and with drug treatment
programmes, the courses are run very much on a group basis. They
require the stability and membership of a group. There is a great
deal of work within the group discussing offending and it is important
to try to keep the group stable for the whole of the course if
it is to be effective.
166. Can I ask you to turn to figure 20 on page
35. You have the average number of prisoner hours spent per week
on purposeful activities over the last few years. The target for
the average number goes up until 1996-97 and then falls very dramatically
in 1997-98. When did you suddenly decide that you did not need
people to do so much useful activity?
(Mr Narey) It was before my time, I am not absolutely
sure. I am pretty certain it will be because during that period
in the Prison Service, although the population was increasing
significantly, there was no accompanying investment in regimes.
For example, we put lots of new wings in prisons in the mid 1990s
but there was no increase in education provision. I think the
second reason is that we are now much more confident about our
data from about the late 1990s onwards than we were previously.
167. Somebody actually decided to build more
prison wings knowing perfectly well that would mean less purposeful
(Mr Narey) That was the reality of the expansion of
accommodation up until about 1998. I am glad to say that we are
not building any additional accommodation at the moment without
the accompanying investment in regime activity whether in workshops
or education or treatment programmes.
168. It is horrifying to hear you say that.
It is in the past now, there is little one can do about it. When
will you be introducing targets for time spent on activities to
reduce reoffending specifically rather than just on useful or
(Mr Narey) We can already separate the time spent
on activity which will reduce reoffending. I have to say, as a
demonstration of the fact that I believe we need much more investment,
the number if we produced it now would be very small indeed per
prisoner, probably fewer than five hours per prisoner per week.
My personal view is the purposeful activity measure remains a
useful compromise between time out of cell, which is another very
helpful measure, and constructive activity. I think in addition
to work on offending programmes, it is important that you measure
the time that prisoners might be spending in the gym, at visits
and so forth.
169. That may be a useful measure as well but
what I was asking was when are you going to introduce targets
for the time spent on activities specifically to reduce reoffending?
(Mr Narey) We have no plans to do that at the moment.
Clearly that would be a matter for my ministers.
170. Really? Why can you not do that?
(Mr Narey) Because I agree my key targets with ministers
on an annual basis.
171. Is there any reason why you should not
decide that is a target which you want to set?
(Mr Narey) As I have described, I can already measure
that and I have given you an indication of how low that is at
the moment. I am tasked to try to meet the purposeful activity
target while increasing the proportion of that which is for work
which will reduce offending.
172. What incentives are there for the prison
governors and the staff to reduce reoffending?
(Mr Narey) I think overwhelmingly that is why people
join the Prison Service. Whether or not it is a naive belief,
I think people join this service not just to lock people up, who
on earth would want to do that, but because they believe they
can contribute in a way to change people's lives. That is why,
as I said to Mr Williams, despite suggestions that the POA might
be antagonistic to this, the POA, who are very difficult in all
sorts of ways, are very committed to this sort of work. It is
the purpose of the service. We have to lock people up, we do that
very, very well, but that is not enough.
173. You have answered my question simply by
saying that people want to do it. What I actually asked was what
incentive is there for them? Is it just their own personal feeling
that is what they want to do?
(Mr Narey) No. I think overwhelmingly that is the
answer. We need to recruit into the service people who want to
do more than simply lock people up. I think that was the sort
of person we used to recruit some years ago. We want people who
are committed not only to treating prisoners decently but doing
things to reduce crime. When you see that happen, when you see
somebody leaving custody whom you really believe is unlikely to
come back, that gives you a sense of great achievement, it can
be very rewarding.
174. I fully understand that although it has
to be said, and there is some evidence, that here we are talking
about some prison officers who did make life difficult in some
of these rehabilitation programmes. I have to say that I am quite
surprised that you seem to think that all those who are working
in the Prison Service actually have this as an aim. It is certainly
not the impression one gets when one hears about places like Wormwood
(Mr Narey) I did not say all, and I do not think all,
but I think overwhelmingly the Prison Service is undergoing some
significant cultural change. I think there is a much greater commitment
to these programmes. In recent years I have had very little opposition
to the expansion of these programmes and the POA at national level,
particularly, I accept there are occasional branches where they
are difficult, have been very enthusiastic about the involvement
of their members. For example, more than half of my tutors on
offending behaviour programmes quite intentionally are prison
officers. I want prison officers to be part and parcel of the
different sort of approach which we are trying to engineer.
175. Have you done any research on the difference
in reconviction rates depending on whether you get a custodial
sentence or whether you get a sentence in the community or a fine?
(Mr Narey) Colleagues in the Home Office produce that
data on a yearly basis.
176. Figures are available?
(Mr Narey) Yes, they are.
177. Is it published?
(Mr Narey) It is published every year.
178. People sometimes talk about a short, sharp
shock as being a good thing, a good way of turning people away
from crime. Would you agree a short, sharp shock, because of what
you have said about the danger of people losing jobs and tenancies,
can only really work if you do use some sort of weekend prison
(Mr Narey) I do not have much faith in so-called short,
sharp shocks. I joined the Prison Service shortly before that
was introduced when Willie Whitelaw was Home Secretary and the
sad reality is that the handful of places where we introduced
the short, sharp shock, we had young offenders absconding from
other establishments to get there. It became a badge of honour
in the North East for example to have been to Medomsley, which
was a very tough, very military approach. We have tried it again
more recently with the boot camp at Colchester. We found that
had little effect on reoffending. I think it is doing constructive
things with prisoners to change the life chances which makes a
difference and regrettably, there is no research to suggest that
running people around in non constructive activity will have any
effect on their reoffending.
Mr Rendel: Very interesting. Thank you.
Chairman: Thank you very much. You are coming
to the end of your sentence, one more questioner. Ian Davidson.
179. Two purposes of prison, one is custody
for which you have just about a 100 per cent success rate, the
other is reducing offending where the success rate is considerably
lower. I want to clarify the extent to which the two are in competition.
There are difficulties between the two objectives that you have.
Can you enlighten me on that?
(Mr Narey) I think a few years ago it was the case
that the first objective overwhelmed the second, particularly
in the mid 1990s when there were some very controversial escapes
from Whitemoor and from Parkhurst when Irish terrorist prisoners
escaped. That led to the mantra of security, security, security
and there was a significant diminution of what one might call
constructive activity. That did not really begin to pick up until
post 1997. 1997 was very important. The Government which then
came into power had a commitment towards constructive regimes
in the manifesto and that made somewhat of a sea change and has
led to some of the investment which has followed. I think we have
got on top of security quite dramatically. We had 230 escapes
a year from prisons in 1993, last year there were 11 and from
a much bigger population. Escapes this year will again be very,
very low indeed. We are not taking the sight off security, it
would be madness to do so, but I think we are on top of that and
we are able to concentrate now in a way we have not been able
to before on doing the second part of a job to reduce offending.
12 Ev 25, Appendix 1; and Ev 30, Appendix 1, Annex