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


Government policies
1.The strategy outlined in the Justice for All white paper was clearly intended to signal a radical shift towards a rational approach to the use of penal policy resources, especially in its explicit aims to reserve custody for the most serious criminals, ensure effective community sentences, establish community prisons and require sentencers to consider crime prevention in passing sentence. We regret that the approach taken in the Justice for All white paper has not been implemented as the Government initially intended (Paragraph 21)
Use of custody
2.We are pleased that the Government has abandoned its plans for Titan prisons but we are worried that the Government seems to accept the inevitability of a high and rising prison population and remains committed to building larger prisons. We are convinced that prison building on this scale will prove a costly mistake. It will preclude movement towards a more effective community prisons model and may limit this and any future Government's willingness and capacity to reinvest in creative measures to reduce the overall prison population in the future. (Paragraph 33)
3. If Lord Carter's analysis is correct in recognising that it is primarily sentencing and enforcement which has caused the problem (by creating a greater supply of offenders into the system and increasing the length of time they remain within it), the solution must include consideration of sentencing and enforcement practice. (Paragraph 41)
4.We welcome the financial injection given to prisons for drug treatment, health, mental health, learning and skills increasing available resources, albeit from a very low baseline. (Paragraph 49)
5.We are not convinced that aiming to spend more on rehabilitation in custody will work while the prison estate is so overcrowded. We believe it is better to invest resources on reducing crime and re-offending within targeted communities. (Paragraph 49)
6.We recommend the significant strengthening of community provision to enable probation to focus on the management of high risk offenders. The underlying needs of many persistent offenders who cause the most problems to local communities would be managed more coherently in the community. Prison resources could then be focused on higher risk offenders and, when they left custody, there would be better community provision for resettlement. All of which would improve effectiveness in reducing re-offending, improve public safety and reduce the prison population. (Paragraph 52)
Expenditure on prisons and probation
7.We are concerned that the Ministry of Justice is overly focused on how each individual service can continue to function with reduced resources rather than assessing the most effective allocation of resources across the system as a whole. (Paragraph 67)
8.We have grave concerns about the impact of efficiency savings on practice at the frontline for both prisons and probation, which will undoubtedly undermine the progress in performance of both services. Neither prisons nor probation have the capacity to keep up with the current levels of offenders entering the system. It is not sustainable to finance the costs of running additional prison places and greater probation caseloads from efficiency savings in the long-term. (Paragraph 87)
9.The Government's over-emphasis on use of custody as a criminal justice response, although partially addressed by the promotion of community sentences for short-sentenced prisoners, intensive alternatives to custody and integrated offender management, has left a legacy that resources for effective community-based interventions have been depleted in relative terms and are now spread far too thinly. The Government must go very much further than paying £40m to correct this imbalance; the sooner it recognises this, the less damaging it will be to the confidence of the public and sentencers and to long-term finances. The test with the pilots will be whether resources are provided to roll them out across the country. We are concerned that there are no probation staff at a senior level in NOMS: this suggests a lack of advocacy on behalf of probation for better resources. We have not seen any evidence which suggests that bringing together prisons and probation has yet had a positive impact; in fact the available evidence on the financial outcomes of this merger point to the contrary. We are deeply concerned at this indication that the Government is moving further towards a prisons-oriented criminal justice system. (Paragraph 88)
10.We recommend that the Ministry of Justice reject any move away from contracting with small organisations with proven track records in providing rehabilitative services for offenders in the name of reducing administrative overheads. Other options should be examined for reducing costs in this area. (Paragraph 95)
11.We recommend that the Ministry of Justice publishes its estimates of the financial impact of both the existing prison building programme, and the new building programme, on the rest of the criminal justice system. (Paragraph 96)
12.The Government has spent too much time pursuing an unrealistic attempt to build its way out of the prisons crisis. Lord Carter's review of prisons, and the stark demonstration of the exorbitant costs of penal expansion, should have been seen as a watershed and a warning against the 'predict and provide' approach to criminal justice policy. The reaction against the proposed Titan prisons should be seized by the Government as an opportunity to switch direction and halt the seemingly inexorable growth of imprisonment. (Paragraph 97)
Effectiveness of prison and probation programmes in reducing crime
13.We welcome indications that reconviction rates following time in prison and on probation have fallen by a considerable margin, although we are concerned at early signs that this trend may be reversing, particularly as this coincides with budgetary constraints for prisons and probation. We are worried that, if the prison system further expands and the increases in funding tail off, these resources will be spread too thinly to continue to reduce re-offending. (Paragraph 104)
14.We recommend that the Ministry of Justice undertake work to identify the key factors influencing changes in the rate of re-offending and crime as a priority. (Paragraph 110)
15.There is a very strong financial case for investing substantial resources in more preventative work with: former offenders; those with drug and alcohol problems; people with mental ill-health; and young people on the outskirts of the criminal justice system or who have been in custody. (Paragraph 127)
16.We recommend that the Government as a whole makes reducing the social exclusion of former offenders a central part of its social policies. (Paragraph 128)
17.We conclude that programmes aimed at rehabilitation—such as tackling offender behaviour, on the one hand, and improving skills and self-confidence, on the other—are worth running in prison, while offenders are inside and in sight. Nonetheless, a more effective investment would be in a substantial programme of 'prehabilitation', aimed at potential offenders and targeted on problem communities, with the objective of heading off the drift into crime and custody before it happens. (Paragraph 129)
Balance between punishment and reform
18.We are concerned that an assumption has been created that punishment is the paramount purpose of sentencing. There is an understandable public concern that offenders should suffer serious consequences for the crimes they have committed, but if other purposes, including reform and rehabilitation and reparation to victims, were given higher priority, then we believe sentencing could make a much more significant contribution to reducing re-offending and to improving the safety of communities. (Paragraph 138)
19.The starting point—not just for sentencing, but for the work of the police, prison, probation service and the contribution of third sector organisations—must be to analyse how and why criminal activity takes place, the factors that influence the seriousness of offending and "what works" in reducing both the frequency and the seriousness of offending. (Paragraph 138)
20.The Government should go much further in reducing the numbers of entrants and re-entrants to the criminal justice system. More emphasis must be placed on ensuring that the criminal justice system is effective in reducing re-offending, diverting people into appropriate support and embracing wider shared responsibility for reducing re-offending by tackling underlying causes within local communities. Resources must be shifted into targeting the reduction of re-offending on a much broader scale, taking a whole systems approach, which applies the best available research evidence to determine the most appropriate allocation of resources both between prisons and probation and outwith the criminal justice system. (Paragraph 140)
21.We are surprised by the cautious approach that the Government has taken towards restorative justice but we welcome its current commitment to revive the strategic direction in this area. We urge the Justice Secretary to take immediate action to promote the use of restorative justice and to ensure that he put in place a fully funded strategy which facilitates national access to restorative justice for victims before the end of this Parliament. (Paragraph 144)
22.We are disappointed that the Government has not implemented its proposals for smaller community-based prisons which would enable prisoners to serve much more of their sentence in a single location, closer to their home community—with consequent benefits for their resettlement. Even if the community prison model is not currently feasible it would be beneficial to apply some of the principles to the existing prison estate so that the estate is not expanded in such a way as to prohibit such an approach in future. (Paragraph 149)
23.We recommend that the Government implement the reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which it has conceded is required, before the end of this Parliament. (Paragraph 150)
24.We are disappointed with the Government's slow progress in implementing Baroness Corston's recommendations for vulnerable women offenders, which it accepted in December 2007. We are concerned that the limited additional funding that has been committed to implementing the recommendations has been partially diverted to existing projects which have been unable to find sustainable funding. This is symptomatic of fundamental problems in funding initiatives which would reduce the use of prison. (Paragraph 157)
25.We welcome Lord Bradley's review of the treatment of people with mental health problems or learning difficulties in the criminal justice system. There is strong evidence that swift action in this area, in particular to broaden access to diversion and liaison schemes and to secure hospital treatment, could yield short, medium and long-term reductions in the prison population and result in cost savings to the public purse, as well as provide more humane approaches to managing offenders with mental ill-health. (Paragraph 158)
26.We commend the Government's progress in attempting to reduce the use of short prison sentences since our report, Towards effective sentencing. We have some concerns that a version of Custody Plus, which was not in itself implemented, is now being introduced 'by the back door' without sufficient funding. (Paragraph 159)
27.We welcome Government emphasis on reducing the use of short-term prison sentences but believe a broader approach is required. This should include increasing the capacity of probation to deal with community sentences, and wider community work with the chronically excluded so as to reduce the waste of probation resources on lower risk offenders. It is more cost-effective to deal with offenders when behaviour starts to become problematic rather than when it is entrenched enough to warrant a custodial sentence. (Paragraph 164)
28.It does not make financial sense to continue to ignore the needs of young adult offenders. They will become the adult offenders of tomorrow. Particular effort should be made to keep this group out of custody. A multi-agency approach, akin to that applied to young offenders aged under 18, might bring similar benefits in terms of the reduction of re-offending to those aged 18 to 25. (Paragraph 166)
29.We recognise the importance of society expressing its abhorrence of crime and understand the expectation that punishment will be an element of sentencing, but the over-riding purpose of the offender management system is public safety, therefore the prevention of future crime. Each offender completing their sentence should be less likely to re-offend than before. Yet there is compelling evidence that the Government has missed many opportunities to reduce re-offending by failing to invest in community provision outside the criminal justice system and by not delivering the raft of promising approaches proposed in recent years (Paragraph 169)
30.Even if the Government cannot agree that reducing re-offending should be the over-riding aim, there must be an agreement that it is currently the most neglected, and that this must change if the system is to become more coherent and rational. (Paragraph 170)
31.The reduction of re-offending and of the incidence of serious further offences requires an essentially public-focused and victim-based approach which goes beyond the traditional culture of the courts and the criminal justice system more generally. (Paragraph 175)
32.We welcome the move to joint targets and more sophisticated measures of re-offending. The Public Service Agreement performance framework and accompanying Local Area Agreement indicators are much more constructive than the preceding targets. (Paragraph 179)
Mainstream provision to reduce crime and re-offending
33.We are concerned that there has been low take-up of crime-related indicators in local areas and we believe that local strategic partnerships should better reflect the priority given to crime as a matter of public concern both nationally and locally. (Paragraph 179)
34.There is no coherent strategy between the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and other departments to ensure the most appropriate allocation of resources to reduce crime. A considerable amount of management information about offenders is held locally by prisons, probation areas and other providers which, if captured centrally, would provide a wealth of material to support the case for cross-departmental reform. (Paragraph 187)
35.We welcome the NOMS benchmarking programme but we are concerned that it is motivated more by a desire to save money that to ensure that resources are allocated rationally to best effect; it is also limited to interventions that have typically been provided by the probation service and does not seek to consider the cost-effective use of resources for reducing crime more widely. (Paragraph 188)
Drivers of system expansion
36.Wider factors, such as the media, public opinion and political rhetoric, contribute to risk averse court, probation and parole decisions and hence play a role in unnecessary system expansion. If Ministers wish the system to become sustainable within existing resources, they must recognise the distorting effect which these pressures have on the pursuit of a rational strategy. (Paragraph 192)
37.We do not contest that crime and responses to it are important political issues but we believe that the extreme politicisation of criminal justice policy is counter-productive, undermines rational policy-making, and conceals the consensus that does exist around the future direction for the criminal justice system. (Paragraph 200)
38.A good deal of media comment assumes that sentencing is below the level that the public expect, whereas the evidence suggests that the public—when asked to make a judgment—set out expectations that are close to the levels that are actually being set by the courts. (Paragraph 215)
39.Parliament must listen to the public's rational perception of what changes are needed and act now to change the direction of the system, replacing expensive custody with community-based sentences and earlier intervention that will reduce re-offending. (Paragraph 216)
40.We welcome recent attempts to challenge public perceptions of crime and punishment, for example through case study websites and roadshows, but we consider that something more fundamental is required to challenge the perception that the criminal justice system is not sufficiently tough. (Paragraph 217)
41.The Government should lead a public debate on the aims of criminal justice policy, and seek to influence, as well as to be influenced by, the public response. In so doing the Government should assert that there are ways of reducing crime, other than expanding the use of imprisonment, which would better protect communities. (Paragraph 218)
42.In basing arguments for reform on the best use of taxpayers' money, the political argument could be shifted away from notions about which party is 'harder' or 'softer' on crime and criminals to questions about the most effective use of scarce resources to reduce offending and re-offending. It is time for an objective consideration of what is in the best interests of society (Paragraph 224)
Blueprint for the future: justice reinvestment
43.There is an inescapable need for a longer-term rational approach to policy and the diversion of resources to prevent future expansion in the number of prison places and the size of probation caseloads. The Government must set a clear direction to reduce the use of custody which must not be diverted by media pressure, even in response to individual difficult cases. (Paragraph 229)
Rational use of resources
44.Organisation and funding should explicitly recognise the correlation between offending and social exclusion in the places where crime most occurs. (Paragraph 240)
45.Being tough on reducing re-offending is not being soft on offenders. Local strategies must take a more integrated and comprehensive approach which recognises that many of those who commit offences are also victims. Justice reinvestment would enable the most victimised communities, as well as offenders and their families, to benefit from additional targeted support. (Paragraph 245)
46.The implementation of Integrated Offender Management, and the London pilot in particular, shows that some of the principles of justice reinvestment can be applied successfully to England and Wales, although the framework for longer-term funding and national roll-out of such initiatives is, as so often is the case, uncertain. (Paragraph 254)
47.We urge the Government to think more widely in any application of justice reinvestment principles at a local level; in particular engaging local government, the health service and non-governmental sectors. (Paragraph 254)
48.A regional or sub-regional model of reinvestment may be possible in the future if the national custody budget for the majority of the prison estate could be fully devolved to directors of offender management. Resources could then be moved from prisons to probation and crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs). In the meantime local criminal justice boards should be encouraged to provide a linkage role between regional and local reducing re-offending plans and between NOMS and CDRPs, in addition to probation, to ensure that prisons are included, where possible, in local partnership plans. (Paragraph 255)
49.We do not consider that the Government's existing programme of work to reduce re-offending pays sufficient attention to the opportunities suggested by a justice reinvestment approach. Although there are welcome signs of an interest in costs and benefits, and some movement of resources between departments, this policy has not been backed by a demonstrable strategy to reduce the use of imprisonment and shift resources from within the criminal justice system; predominantly from prisons. (Paragraph 258)
Justice mapping
50.The under-use of geographical analysis is partly the result of a lack of available expertise in mapping techniques and a lack of resources to conduct the necessary analysis. Where local leadership by local authorities and the police has driven the development of effective, analytical and innovative crime reduction techniques within proactive partnerships this has been extremely successful. The Government should undertake audits of the capacity of crime and disorder reduction partnerships, local criminal justice boards and local authorities to use geographical mapping. The combined results should determine whether additional resources must be employed to increase such capacity, for example, by providing hubs for technical support or by developing local expertise through training. Whatever form this capacity building takes it should be targeted in the first instance on improving areas which are failing against relevant public service agreement targets. (Paragraph 268)
51.Priority-setting to concentrate effort on existing offenders in particular areas is hampered by both the poor quality of data available locally and lack of accessibility to data that is available. We find it remarkable that there are still problems with information sharing when it is over 10 years since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 made it quite clear that information can be shared for the purposes of preventing offending. (Paragraph 271)
52.Justice mapping should be used as a catalyst for stronger local authority and partnership strategies which prioritise the reduction of crime and re-offending in particular areas through, for example, local area agreements and crime reduction plans. (Paragraph 276)
53.The co-ordination of justice mapping activity at local level must be locally determined. (Paragraph 277)
54. The Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government should devise guidance and a mechanism whereby DOMS and Government Offices can work with regional "reducing re-offending" partnership boards to use justice mapping to inform their plans. The aggregated mapping information generated by local partnerships would similarly provide valuable data to inform national policy. (Paragraph 278)
55.Bringing together justice mapping with information on the costs of re-offending to local partners may provide a sufficient incentive for the reallocation of partnership resources in some areas. We welcome the evidence that local authorities have successfully used NOMS/Home Office methodology to help mobilise resources to reduce re-offending. The NOMS Civic Society Alliance should promote the principles of justice reinvestment among local authorities as part of its ongoing strategy to build capacity to reduce re-offending. All local strategic partnerships should use the NOMS framework to illustrate the costs of re-offending to local authorities and health care trusts. (Paragraph 282)
56. We welcome the work of the Youth Justice Board in exposing the costs of the use of custody for young people at local level and recommend that the same is done for adults. (Paragraph 283)
Generating options for policy makers
57.The Government has not demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of its policies to reduce crime or re-offending. Neither has it produced any evidence that the prison building programme and the establishment of the Sentencing Council together represent a sustainable long-term policy. (Paragraph 301)
58. While Government can do more to identify those interventions which are successful by investing in high quality evaluation, a policy which promotes the most effective use of resources to reduce crime and manage offenders would benefit from the existence of an independent cross-disciplinary centre of excellence. Government could then identify the level of resources that should be invested in what is already known to be effective on a scale which would reduce medium and long-term costs to the criminal justice system. (Paragraph 301)
59.The Government should establish a national justice reinvestment working group at Cabinet Office level, for example, as a sub-group of the National Crime Reduction Board. As a starting point the Government should analyse the existing flow of resources at national level including total spending across central departments, for example on health, education, social welfare and criminal justice for key groups of offenders, including women, young people, young adults and persistent offenders. This, coupled with robust economic modelling of what is effective in reducing crime and re-offending, can be used to inform the development of a national justice reinvestment plan. (Paragraph 302)
60.Effective crime reduction policies should lead to reduced spending on the prison system and better return on investment in efforts to reduce crime and re-offending over several spending cycles. The Government must therefore develop incentives for longer-term planning nationally, regionally and locally. (Paragraph 303)
61.We recommend that the Government gives consideration to the most appropriate means of drawing together existing research with a view to devising a transparent and coherent model for directing resources more effectively to prevent further expansion of the criminal justice system and increases in costs. (Paragraph 308)
62.If local efforts to reallocate resources are to be effective in reducing the national costs of custody, local plans must be linked to a national strategy and subject to a quality assurance process to couple the results of mapping with the use of research on effective practice to determine the most cost-effective ways of meeting priorities. (Paragraph 312)
63.The [new] national centre should undertake monitoring to: ensure that local plans are based on robust evidence of effective and cost-beneficial practice; determine whether progress is being made in delivering results; and advise partnerships on adapting their plans if the desired outcomes are not being achieved. (Paragraph 312)
Shifting resources to facilitate reinvestment
64.The prison population could be safely capped at current levels and then reduced over a specified period to a safe and manageable level likely to be about two thirds of the current population (taking Lord Woolf's 1991 proposal as a model and bearing in mind comparable figures from other Western European countries). (Paragraph 321)
65.It will take time to realise both the assets from the custodial estate and savings from the prison expansion programme, the payments for some of which are spread over 30 years. Initial investment is therefore required as part of an explicit attempt to reduce prison population. The Ministry of Justice cannot take forward such a policy on its own. It requires a higher level Government commitment and a combination of short-term and long-term strategies. We recommend that a business case is made to the Treasury for spending a significant part of resources which are currently earmarked for the new prison building programme on a programme of justice reinvestment. (Paragraph 323)
66.There is an urgent need to develop mechanisms for a longer-term approach to planning for crime reduction, including reducing re-offending, at the local level. We consider that a joint strategic needs assessment approach, similar to that required of primary care trusts and local authorities, should be applied to crime reduction and the reduction of re-offending. Justice mapping could support this. (Paragraph 328)
67.It is worrying that so few probation areas have become trusts in anticipation of the Government's aspiration for all areas to have done so by March 2010. We are concerned that the capacity of probation areas to make the transition to trusts is being undermined by the severe scarcity of resources for them to perform even their most basic functions. We envisage that these trusts will take some time to embed and we expect the Government to take this in to account in movement towards opening probation to competition. (Paragraph 332)
68.We do not believe that performance incentives alone will result in the reallocation of resources at a scale and pace sufficient to prevent further prison building. (Paragraph 333)
69.If the Government is to realise its aim of integrated local commissioning in sufficient time to prevent the further escalation of criminal justice costs, there is an urgent need for further national direction. (Paragraph 333)
70.The relevant agencies and partnerships would benefit from their responsibilities and shared concerns being collated and published together in a single guidance document. This should be published as soon as possible after probation becomes a responsible authority in crime and disorder reduction partnerships following the passage of the Policing and Crime Bill. (Paragraph 333)
71.There needs to be a direct financial incentive for local agencies to spend money in ways which will reduce prison numbers. (Paragraph 338)
72.There is a strong case for exploring greater devolution of custodial budgets, and we are encouraged that this is currently being given serious consideration with respect to youth justice. We are not convinced that simply making local authorities pay for custodial places represents the most constructive means of redistributing resources. We do not believe that this will be either possible or acceptable unless some money is invested up-front to enable local authorities to reduce the use of custody in their area. There is support for local partners to share money and invest in jointly funded services if there is some initial pump-priming. Devolution of custodial budgets must therefore be viewed as a longer-term goal. Such a model would also require much greater engagement between local authorities and the courts but this may be possible if the community justice court model were to be adopted universally.
(Paragraph 352)
73.We believe that the movement of resources could be achieved much more quickly, bringing down spending on imprisonment more dramatically, if local partnerships were given an added financial incentive to reduce the use of custody as a proportion of the 'expected' rate, based on the characteristics of local offenders and the sentencing trends of the local courts. We consider that the use of social impact bonds —as a means of reducing crime and re-offending in particular areas, by particular groups, including women, young adults, persistent offenders and those with substance misuse or mental health problems—warrants serious consideration by Government. (Paragraph 353)
74.We recommend that the Government provide financial support at the local level to kick-start the process of reallocating resources to reduce crime. The Adults facing Chronic Exclusion pilots show the benefits of cross-departmental investment, but pilots such as this are not self-sustaining. A national justice reinvestment fund should be created, based on a business case for the long-term movement of resources from the criminal justice system to local areas. Funds previously allocated to building the three planned large accommodation prisons, and a significant proportion of the money which must be found annually to support the cost of the new resulting prison places, should be included in the new fund. Other government departments must also be encouraged to allocate resources to the fund. This fund should be used to provide central match funding to encourage partnerships develop plans to pool and align budgets and reduce the use of custody. It could also be used to support the use of social impact bonds. The fund could eventually become fully devolved as part of the local area grant once the pooling of resources for reducing re-offending is common practice. (Paragraph 358)
75.The value of multi-agency panels to review the cases of young people and adults on the threshold of the criminal justice system and at risk of custody should be highlighted in guidance issued to crime and disorder reduction partnerships. (Paragraph 359)
76.Local agencies must also work much harder to develop effective ways to deal with low level young and adult offenders outside the criminal justice system altogether rather than them unnecessarily absorbing the resources of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and the Probation Service. Lower risk offenders should ultimately become the responsibility of local authority and other mainstream agencies, enabling probation trusts and YOTs to concentrate on the core business of supervising serious, high risk and dangerous offenders. (Paragraph 362)
Measuring the impact of justice reinvestment
77.We urge the Government to consider introducing an explicit indicator for adults related to reducing the use of custody in the next National Indicator Set. Areas which have been found to over-use custody in relation to the characteristics of those sentenced should then be encouraged to take up these indicators in the next negotiation of local area agreements. (Paragraph 365)
78.Developing something akin to a QALY to measure the relative cost-effectiveness of measures to reduce crime could take into account the quantity and frequency of re-offending and the associated costs, plus wider costs to society, victims and offenders' families. (Paragraph 372)
79.As the Government has acknowledged, there is a need for better mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of partnership interventions at a local level. This would enable areas to build up a picture of what policies are most effective. (Paragraph 374)
80.A broader set of outcomes—including the wider social costs of imprisonment to individual offenders and their families, and costs to communities—needs to be captured as a complement to existing measures, perhaps based on social return on investment methodologies. We are encouraged that the Office of the Third Sector has introduced such methodologies but we would like to see them being adopted more widely by Government. We owe it to victims and communities to recognise the wider social costs of crime and those of our responses to crime. (Paragraph 375)
81.It would only be necessary to reduce re-offending by a fairly small margin to cover the costs of many community interventions. (Paragraph 377)
Engagement with the public
82. Public information campaigns should seek to promote understanding of the cost of the criminal justice system to the public purse and where the costs of the failure of current initiatives fall. The Government should use this to gauge public reaction to the costs of the system. The forthcoming election represents an opportunity for constructive local debates on the direction of policy, if party spokespeople and candidates are prepared to move the debate on to consider what is cost effective in reducing future crime and what the nation can afford. (Paragraph 384)
83.We welcome the proposals in the Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice white paper. We are encouraged that the Government is seeking to target efforts to engage the public in areas which are particularly affected by crime. Criminal justice agencies must recognise a sustained effort may be required to engage with some communities. The justice reinvestment framework also fits well with the community justice approach. It has the potential to help produce solutions to community problems, as well as to help reform offenders and reduce re-offending. It could also enable offenders to make amends to their victims and communities for their crimes. (Paragraph 397)
84.Public engagement should promote involvement in the system rather than simply seek views on it. We would like to see more sophisticated methods of public engagement implemented so that people can become more closely involved in the system in more informed ways, for example, through volunteering or by being encouraged to develop local solutions to local problems. In this context we welcome the Ministry of Justice's volunteering strategy, although it will only work if it is properly resourced. (Paragraph 401)
85.The Government should consider adopting the Connected Care model as part of its strategies to engage communities in criminal justice and manage the costs of the criminal justice system. (Paragraph 401)
86.Justice reinvestment is not just about moving money between agencies or partnerships but also about placing it under the direction of local communities and involving them in the process of spending it. Participatory budgets offer another means for local people to engage in determining local priorities, within a justice reinvestment model. We welcome progress made by the Home Office in this area in allowing reinvestment of the proceeds of crime in the community. We consider that participatory budgets could also help to increase the visibility of other positive aspects of the justice system, including the revenue generated by fines. (Paragraph 404)
87.The Government should develop a mechanism to allow the public to understand the costs of local offending to the criminal justice system and the wider costs to society, including costs to other services (e.g. health, housing, social services and benefits) of failing to reduce re-offending. (Paragraph 406)
Challenges for the Sentencing Council
88.We welcome the fact that the sentencing guidelines are now recognising the effectiveness of different approaches more explicitly, for example, the youth sentencing guideline emphasised limitations in the effectiveness of custody for young offenders. This approach needs to be followed consistently. (Paragraph 417)
89. We support efforts to provide sentencers with information on courts' use of probation resources, although this is unlikely to be effective in encouraging sentencers to be more judicious in their use of resources on its own as it will not include the costs of custodial sentencing. The cost-effectiveness of all sentences given locally should also form part of the information shared at meetings between the judiciary and the probation service. (Paragraph 420)
90.We agree that the Sentencing Council must be well-resourced to enable it to perform its research function. We have concerns that it has taken similar bodies in other jurisdictions considerable time to ensure that data is of sufficient quality to form the basis of decisions about the most appropriate allocation of resources within sentencing guidelines. We do not believe that the Government's assessment of the cost implications of improved data collection adequately reflects the additional administrative burden on courts. It also underestimates the potential of improvements in court technology to provide a more rational approach to sentencing. (Paragraph 422)
91.The wider question of whether the cost of a sentencing framework is too high—in terms of its use of prison and probation resources—should be answered otherwise the existing system is left in a precarious position and at risk of its future sustainability being undermined. (Paragraph 431)
92. We believe that the role of the Sentencing Council should be to ensure that sentencing practice succeeds in reducing offending and re-offending. (Paragraph 432)
93.We agree with the judiciary and other witnesses that the availability of resources should not influence individual sentencing decisions but a mechanism must be found to ensure that one element of the accountability of the judiciary and magistracy to the public is the appropriate use of scarce resources. We are emphatically not advocating a system of elected judges but there are advantages of the US system in terms of judges' accountability to the public to be cost-effective in their sentencing. Both the Government and the Sentencing Council should consider how sentencers can be given a better understanding of what works in terms of reducing offending and re-offending and is therefore best in terms of justice and public protection. Sentencers also need data on the cost-effectiveness, and thus the consequences for the taxpayer, of their decisions. This could be achieved, for example, by strengthening the role of local criminal justice boards, which bring together criminal justice agencies, including the Crown Prosecution Service and HM Courts Service, to consider the implications of decision-making at local level. (Paragraph 433)
94. The Sentencing Council must be given the resources to recruit expertise to develop a database housing all data on sentencing decisions and the characteristics of offenders sentenced to provide a basis for the development of evidence-based guidelines. In addition courts and probation areas must be given the capacity to record, collate and provide this data to the Sentencing Council. (Paragraph 434)
Promoting confidence in community sentences
95.Sentencers must receive systematic feedback on outcomes so that they have a clear idea of the efficacy of their sentencing. We welcome the Government's proposals to explore whether oversight throughout the duration of community orders, along the lines of that provided by community courts, could be made available in all magistrates' courts. (Paragraph 446)
96.We recommend the Government assesses the potential for drawing in wider community-based sources of funding for courts, for example, through local businesses, which we heard about in Seattle. In the meantime probation could usefully provide feedback to courts on progress in individual cases, for example, through the use of case studies, in addition to sharing aggregated data on outcomes. (Paragraph 446)
97.Government should consult with sentencers and the Crown Prosecution Service to seek views on appropriate means of dialogue with crime and disorder reduction partnerships to ensure that provision to reduce re-offending is available to meet the needs of the courts. (Paragraph 447)
98.   The public needs to be made aware that a tough outcome in terms of sentence length may not equate to an effective outcome in terms of the reduction of crime. (Paragraph 448)

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