Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

Annex A


  1.  The Government's response to the Home Affairs select Committee's report "Alternatives to Prison Sentences" was published in December 1998 (Cm 4174).

  2.  This annex provides more detailed updates on that response on five areas of particular interest in the 1998 report, women offenders, drug treatment, unpaid work, offender management and restorative justice.


  3.  "Alternatives to Prison Sentences" recommended that the Home Office ensures that credible alternatives to prison are available for women nationally.

  4.  The number of females starting community sentences has increased more sharply than for males over the past 10 years. The number of males starting all community sentences between 1995 and 2005 increased by some 18% and for females by some 43%.

  5.  The Women's Offending Reduction Programme (WORP) launched in March 2004, tackles women's offending specifically and aims to reduce the number of women in prison. This programme of work focuses on improving community based services and interventions that are better tailored for women, to support greater use of community disposals rather than short prison sentences.

  6.  To help support a more effective community-based response to women's offending; £9.15 million funding was allocated in March 2005 to establish new initiatives to tackle women's offending in the community—the Together Women Programme. The Programme is developing an integrated approach to routing women to appropriate services to meet their needs at various stages of their offending history.

  7.  Women offenders with drug problems can be given a community sentence with any of the 12 available requirements including the drug rehabilitation requirement. Offender managers will construct a sentence plan to ensure that drug treatment is delivered in a way which accommodates any specific needs of female offenders.

  8.  Unpaid Work (the successor to community punishment orders) seeks to strike a balance between accommodating the needs of women offenders and ensuring that the demands made on all offenders subject to Unpaid Work is equitable.

  9.  The needs of female offenders have been included in guidance issued to probation areas in a "Manual on the Delivery of Unpaid Work" (2006).

  10.  The National Probation Service has a range of accredited programmes, each designed to address a specific offending related need including cognitive skills. All programmes including those under development are subject to an impact assessment to ensure they are suitable for women as well as men.

  11.  The Government welcomes Baroness Corston's recent review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system. The Report will be used to identify where there are gaps in current provision and what can be done to build on the progress that has already been made by initiatives such as the Women's Offending Reduction Programme.

  12.  The review's 43 recommendations are wide-ranging and propose action by a number of different Government departments and other organisations to address the complex and multiple needs of women, both in the criminal justice system and at risk of offending. It must be right that these recommendations are carefully explored with all the departments and agencies concerned. The Government will then develop a detailed response setting out an agreed way forward.


  13.  "Alternatives to Prison Sentences" recommended that all drug misusing offenders given community sentences have access to appropriate treatment.

  14.  The community order with a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) replaced The Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO) under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for offenders aged 18 years and over.

  15.  The community order with a DRR can be used to deliver treatment to a much wider group of drug using offenders than was possible under the DTTO. The DTTO was targeted primarily at higher levels of offence seriousness. Under the CJA 2003, it is possible to replicate a DTTO for more serious offences by combining a DRR with two or three other requirements. The DRR can also be used as stand alone requirement to address drug related offending at the lowest seriousness level of the community sentencing band. Numbers starting and completing orders have increased year on year since the DTTO/DRR was introduced.

  16.  There has been a 44% increase in the number of completions and a 19% increase in the number of DRR/DTTO commencements between April and October 2006 compared with the same period in 2005.

  17.  The DRR is managed in accordance with Home Office National Standards which specify for example, that treatment must commence within two working days of the order being made and includes minimum contact times. As with DTTOs, the offender's progress is reviewed by the court at regular intervals.

  18.  We expect the vast majority of offenders with drug problems who are given a community sentence to be suitable for a DRR. In the few instances where an offender with a drug problem is given a community sentence without a DRR, they are entitled to receive drug treatment in the same way as any other member of the local community. Unlike offenders on DRRs, however, they will not be given priority access or be subject to minimum treatment times. NOMS has therefore been working with probation areas, courts, the National Treatment Agency and the Drugs Intervention Programme to ensure that most community sentences for drug using offenders include a DRR.


  19.  Community Service has undergone two significant legislative changes since the Select Committee made its recommendations in 1998. Firstly it became known as "Community Punishment". This was then developed into "Enhanced Community Punishment" to promote the rehabilitation of offenders in addition to providing punishment. Secondly, under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the name changed to "Unpaid Work" and it is one of a suite of requirements that can be part of a Community Order. This has retained the critical developments made under Enhanced Community Punishment and added a more robust approach to the assessment and management of risk from offenders undertaking Unpaid Work.

  20.  Over the past eighteen months, we have promoted the use of unpaid work requirements as part of "Community Payback". The principal aims of Community Payback are to increase the visibility of the work done by offenders, and consequently the benefits to the community, and to engage the public in nominating the work that they would like to see offenders perform in their communities. This has proved to be particularly successful in raising awareness among the public through the involvement of local media and community groups.

  21.  After the development of National Probation Service arrangements to communicate with sentencers were increasingly supported by centrally produced material and innovations, such as evidence-based "What Works" practice. Progress on the drive to dramatically improve probation's enforcement performance was relayed to sentencers and research in 2002 showed that sentencer perception about the rigour of breach had changed for the better, with sentencers believing that the Service was dealing promptly with those who failed to comply with court orders.


  22.  The Government is committed to placing victims' needs at the centre of the CJS and restorative justice can help us to deliver this aim.

  23.  Consistent evidence suggests that restorative justice increases victim satisfaction: at least 75% of victims who choose to take part in restorative justice are glad they did so (Marshall, 1999).[68]

  24.  Evidence from abroad and in the UK of the impact of restorative justice on re-offending is more mixed and we are working to fill existing gaps in research knowledge.

  25.  The Government launched a consultation document on its restorative justice strategy on 22 July 2003 (Home Office, Restorative Justice, the Government's Strategy, 2003). The strategy aims to:

    —  encourage, without requiring, further use of restorative justice in the adult criminal justice system, particularly as a service to victims;

    —  ensure quality of delivery, both to ensure victim satisfaction and as a key building block for further expansion of restorative justice, in particular by developing best practice guidance and a training and accreditation framework; and

    —  continue to develop the evidence base on when restorative justice works for adult offenders, particularly in relation to re-offending.

  26.  Best practice guidance for practitioners was published in December 2004 (Home Office, Best practice guidance for restorative practitioners, and their Case Supervisors and Line Managers, 2004).

  27.  In March 2005, the National Criminal Justice Board issued guidance to Local Criminal Justice Boards on restorative justice to encourage them to consider the use of adult restorative justice in delivering their existing targets relating to victim satisfaction and public confidence in the criminal justice system (Home Office, Restorative justice: helping to meet local needs, 2005). The current national roll-out of adult conditional cautions provides a further opportunity to deliver restorative justice.

  28.  The Government invested around £5m in the Crime Reduction Programme Restorative Justice Pilots (which ran from 2001 to 2004) and their evaluation. These pilots delivered restorative justice at all stages in the criminal justice system and involved both juvenile and adult offenders.

  29.  Two (of four) research reports have already been published on, respectively, the setting up of the pilots and victim and offender attitudes (Shapland et al, 2004 and Shapland et al, 2006).[69] The third and fourth reports on victim and offender satisfaction, and the impact of restorative justice on reconviction rates and cost-effectiveness are expected to be published in 2007. This research will inform the longer term strategy for adult restorative justice.

  30.  Restorative justice is a central part of the youth justice system and victim contact or reparation can be part of all youth justice disposals.


  31.  Offender Management contributes to making sentences more effective by improving the way offenders are managed with a view to greater compliance, improved completion of programmes and, ultimately, reduced re-offending.

  32.  The evidence indicates that continuity and consistency are important in the effective management of offenders.69,70,71,72[70][71][72][73] A key element of Offender Management is that, as far as possible, the same offender manager will be responsible for an offender for the whole of the sentence, whether it is served in the community, in custody or a mixture of both.

  33.  There will be circumstances in which a change of offender manager is unavoidable (retirement; promotion; pregnancy etc), but provision will be made for a proper handover of the case between offender managers

  34.  The offender manager assesses the offender's risks and needs, plans the sentence and is responsible for ensuring that the plan is delivered and kept up to date.

  35.  The offender manager draws down the resources needed—eg a particular intervention delivered by the NPS or by an external provider—and liaises with other agencies such as the police (eg in MAPPA cases)

  36.  The offender manager is a probation officer or a probation service officer and is always based in the community, even if the offender is in prison. The offender manager is in the probation area in which the offender lives or to which the offender is expected to return on release from prison.

  37.  Offender Management was introduced for community sentences and licence cases in 2005-06.

  38.  In November 2006 it was extended to a small but important section of the prison population, namely determinate sentence prisoners serving 12 months or more who are assessed as posing a high or very high risk of serious harm or who are PPO cases.

  39.  We plan to extend Offender Management to lifers and IPP cases in October 2007.

  40.  Extension to the remaining determinate sentence prisoners serving 12 months or more is planned for 2008, the precise date still to be determined.

  41.  Following the decision to defer Custody Plus our plans do not, at present, include the under 12 month prison population.

68   Marshall, T (1999) Restorative Justice: An Overview. Occasional Paper. Home Office Research Development Statistics. London: Home Office. Back

69   Shapland, J, Atkinson, A, Colledge, E, Dignan, J, Howes, M, Johnstone, J, Robinson, G, & Sorsby, A (2004) Implementing restorative justice schemes (Crime Reduction Programme)-a report on the first year. Online Report 32/04. London: Home Office. Shapland, J, Atkinson A, Atkinson, H, Chapman B, Dignan, J, Howes, M, Johnstone, J, Robinson, G, and Sorsby, A (2006) restorative justice in practice, findings from the second phase of the evaluation of three schemes. Findings 274, London: Home Office.  Back

70   Holt, P (2000) Case management: context for supervision. (Community and Criminal Justice Monograph 2), Leicester: De Montfort University. Back

71   Beaumont, B, Caddick, B and Hare-Duke, H (2001) Meeting Offenders' Needs. Bristol: University of Bristol Scholl for Policy Studies. Back

72   Ricketts, T, Bliss, P, Murphy, K and Brooker, C (2002) The life-course of the DTTO: Engagement with Drug Treatment and Testing Orders. Sheffield: University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research. Back

73   Partridge, S. (2004) Examining case management models for community supervision. Home Office Online Report 17/04. London: Home Office. Back

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