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31 Jan 2008 : Column 162WH—continued

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the reoffending rate, the issues relating to reoffending generally and the predicted rate of reoffending. The adult reoffending rate fell by 5.8 per cent between 2000 and 2004, on the latest data; the reoffending rate for ex-prisoners has fallen by 4.6 per cent., and the reoffending rate for those with community sentences has fallen by 6.7 per cent. The figures for youth reoffending are not as good and we must focus on that issue; the figures basically
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remained stable over that five-year period. The hon. Gentleman also asked whether there is concern about the predicted rate of reoffending rate versus the actual rate. The actual rate has also fallen, from 57.6 per cent. to 55.5 per cent. over the same period. Therefore, both the predicted rate and the actual rate have fallen—the predicted rate by more, but the actual rate has also fallen.

Using the predicted rate is not about moving the goalposts. Assessment of school performance is based on the intake of the school, in the same way as we assess the characteristics of offenders in a cohort. We look at what happens with those offenders, including whether they are likely to reoffend, and we try to make fair comparisons accordingly. As I said, the overall reoffending rate has fallen for adult offenders by 5.8 per cent., and in actual terms from 57.6 per cent. to 55.5 per cent.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned C-NOMIS, the custody-national offender management information system. I would like to reassure him that NOMIS—the national offender management information system—has not ended, that end-to-end offender management is in place and that we are rolling out NOMIS to prisons. However, as part of this reorganisation, we are looking at how we can completely integrate probation and prison services as part of the end-to-end management of offenders.

The computer system had to be reconfigured. I am sure that anyone representing the interests of the taxpayer who is given a figure showing a massive increase in the cost of a scheme would have to consider reconfiguring it. I did that in August, in what I believe was a positive way.

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Mr. Bellingham: Is it still the Government’s intention, if they can find a cost-effective way of using C-NOMIS as the all-embracing system for end-to-end offender management, to use it for that purpose? I take on board the Minister’s point about the system running over budget and his trying to control costs, and his saying that the system will be restricted to prisons for the time being. Nevertheless, surely the system’s raison d’ĂȘtre was the end-to-end management of offenders.

Mr. Hanson: We were in a number of phases of rolling out the end-to-end offender management system, and the computer systems are in place to meet our objectives. NOMIS has been rolled out in prisons. There will not be the same level of criteria and the same level of access as there would have been under the old system. However, in making that change I have potentially saved between £300 million and £400 million on the overall costs and it is important that we have made that saving, because the cost of the aspiration was unrealistic. I have had to look at scaling back the system to meet our objectives and the needs of end-to-end offender management, but in a cost-effective way.

We have had a positive debate today. I believe that there is a common agenda on many of the points that we have discussed, and I urge the Members present to continue a dialogue on how we prevent reoffending. I believe that we have a very positive tale to tell. Consultations are still open on a number of issues. The policy paper that we have discussed today, “Prison policy update”, sets out the direction of travel, and I commend it to my colleagues here today.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-nine minutes past Four o’clock.

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