Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Annex A

Numbers of prisoners not completing accredited offending behaviour programmes due to transfer

As far as accredited offending behaviour programmes are concerned, because we routinely collect a significant amount of data, we need to make choices as to what to collect. We base these on whether or not doing so would serve a significant clinical purpose, and on the ease with which data collection can be made. We do not routinely collect data that would allow me to give comprehensive information on the numbers that do not complete programmes by reason of transfer and the numbers that complete programmes when they have two or more years left to serve for all programmes. But my staff have been able to make estimates in some cases and to provide definite data in some others.

Question 163: Prisoners not completing programmes by reason of transfer?

The data for the main cognitive skills offending behaviour and CALM (for those whose inability to control anger or emotion has led to the offence) programmes are evidenced estimates:

    —  cognitive skills: 84 (1.7 per cent) of 4,974 prisoners;

    —  CALM: 4 (1.7 per cent) of 235 prisoners.

We know that 3 of the 851 prisoners (0.4 per cent) that took the Sex Offender Treatment Programme dropped out for reasons of transfer.

We do not have data in respect of the Cognitive Self Change Programme. It is long and complex: some of its features are that it allows participants to drop out and re-join, and that its various modules, if successful, can lead to a down-grading of security risk—and therefore transfer—during the course of the programme; and some of the modules are designed to be delivered in the community. It is therefore inappropriate to collect data on failure to complete the programme through transfer, and is difficult to estimate.

As I suggested when giving evidence, the numbers not completing these programmes by reason of transfer does appear to be small. There are good reasons for this. Prisons are strictly audited on their implementation of accredited programmes, including on the institutional support provided for them. The audit results in a score that proportionately reduces the number of programme completions the prison may count towards the achievement of its key performance target. Under that system, transfer without good cause will be penalised, so prisons try to avoid them.

Transfers out can be for very good reasons - for example for reasons of good order and discipline because the prisoner is seriously disruptive or a danger to other prisoners, or because he is himself under some form of threat. I expect prisons to manage such situations without transferring prisoners wherever possible, but sometimes a transfer really is the only reasonable option.

Martin Narey
Director General
HM Prison Service

March 2002

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