Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment - Justice Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 380 - 384)



  Q380  Chairman: The point I was going to put to you is that on the basis of what you have said there is significant untapped potential which would result from having a more rational prison system and a more rational sentencing system.

  Ian Porée: I do not think there is evidence to say that actually if we had neat closed geographic regions we would necessarily deliver a much better performance because the implication then is that the closeness to home argument is a fundamental driver of improvements in terms of reoffending.

  Q381  Chairman: That was not the basis of the argument; the basis of the argument was that you would have a more rational movement of prisoners into appropriate other facilities when they come out if you are working within a single region.

  Ian Porée: The notion if it was a neat geographic region, you would then have to make sure that you matched the provision of need for that group of individuals for that particular region.

  Q382  Mr Heath: Would that not be a good idea?

  Ian Porée: It would certainly be a good idea but it is also a good idea to do that nationally and the reality is that we deliver the amount of provision within the resource envelope and there are more needs within the offender group than there is provision to meet those needs. So currently, even as a national system it is a rationing system delivering the available intervention provision essentially to the person who can benefit most from that provision. Clearly the priority starts with public protection and then we get into reform. To be accurate, we start with legislative requirements, then public protection and then reform.

  Q383  Mrs Riordan: The Framework also states that Local Area Agreements will be the main delivery contract between central government and the local government community, including probation boards and trusts. However, separately negotiated Service Level Agreements have been drawn up between regional commissioners and the probation board/trusts. How have these negotiations between regional commissioners and the probation boards and trusts and the Government offices and local authorities worked together in practice? And what happens when there is a conflict in the final resource agreements?

  Ian Porée: The reality is that even at the moment, as you quite rightly say, those two systems run more or less in parallel even though the individuals on the ground clearly all work very closely with good relationships and better relationships give you a better opportunity to rely on the resource to achieve those outcomes. Within the Local Area Agreements an example would be the reducing re-offending measure only appeared on the prioritised list within Local Area Agreements with a percentage of the local authorities around the country, and you would find the same with the substance misuse or reduction in drug measures, as you would with the alcohol admissions type measures. Essentially what you find is that those local priorities do not necessarily pick up all the same measures as you would find within a standard set of NOMS performance measures. So we still have two systems which have NOMS paying attention to its overall priorities and measures, but essentially working in collaboration with the local authorities and the Criminal Justice Boards. So there is not a neat join-up where actually the two systems end up with exactly the same set of performance measures. That boundary is covered now through good, close partnership working and joint representation on local boards and panels. But we do not have a system now which neatly joins up the LAAs and the scorecard effectively for a local delivery leader, either in probation or in prison for that matter.

  Q384  Alun Michael: You mentioned that there are some places where they are tackling drug issues and others where crime reduction is part of the set of objectives set out by the local authority. Do those appear in those areas which have those problems to the greatest, or not? Perhaps that is something you could reflect on and let us have some comments in writing.

  Ian Porée: Yes.

  Chairman: At which point you are going to be joined, Mr Porée, by Mr Gamble of the Learning and Skills Council and Mr Stewart who is the Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, as we broaden our scope.

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