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


2  BACKGROUND

Recent relevant reports

15. In our report, Towards effective sentencing, we explored the Government's performance in meeting the twin aims of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to reserve prison sentences for serious, dangerous, and seriously persistent offenders and, for other less serious offenders, to use tough community-based sentences, which were seen as a much better alternative than short custodial sentences which can be ineffective in preventing re-offending. [12]

16. We concluded that whilst longer sentences had been imposed for serious violent and sexual offenders, low-level and persistent offenders were not being dealt with effectively; in other words by robust community punishments rather than short custodial sentences. This was partly because the former were not available for all who need them. This has contributed, along with other factors (including greater detection of crime and better enforcement of sentences), to considerable expansion of the prison system in particular, and rising caseloads for the probation service.

17. Protecting the public is of paramount importance, but our report identified many unanswered questions about the consequences of the Government's approach which denied resources for some aspects of the system which could reduce the use of prison—for example, community penalties and efforts to reduce re-offending—in favour of investment in the expansion of prisons, and about the basis upon which decisions are taken about the allocation of resources. Dame Anne Owers DBE, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons summarised the situation: "the difficulty we have at the moment is that the rising prison population soaks up resources like a sponge and takes away resources from the other things which are not prison which you would need to have in place in order not to use prison so much; so it becomes a kind of vicious cycle."[13]

18. In our report, Sentencing Guidelines and Parliament: building a bridge, we looked at the Government's proposals for a new body to develop and issue sentencing guidelines.[14] We concluded that more attention needs to be paid to the effectiveness of sentencing if the new body was to contribute to public confidence in the criminal justice system and to an understanding of the costs of different sentences and their relative effectiveness in achieving the purposes of sentencing. We identified risks in a sentencing policy based on what we regarded as "misconceptions" about what the public 'wants' and, over the longer term, we feared that resources will be diverted away from a sentencing framework that is genuinely effective in contributing towards the reduction of re-offending.

Government policies

19. The sentencing provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 were introduced as part of a wider range of measures detailed in the Government's 2002 Justice for All white paper. These measures, summarised in the box below, were intended to form "a coherent strategy, from the detection of offences to the rehabilitation of offenders, designed to focus the criminal justice system on its purpose—fighting and reducing crime and delivering justice on behalf of victims, defendants and the community."[15]


20. The Government's vision was "for a criminal justice system that puts victims at its heart and in which the public are confident and engaged […] [and that is] effective in deterring offenders and bringing offences to justice through simple and efficient processes."[16] 'Rebalancing' the criminal justice system in favour of the victim and the community as the priority aim has become a central feature of Government rhetoric for policy on the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime and the 'punishment and rehabilitation' of offenders. However, success in achieving this rebalancing relies on accomplishing other priorities; for example, the system must be effective at reducing further crimes in order to create safer communities.[17]

21. The Justice Secretary, in a speech in October 2008 expressed the wish to "reclaim" two words he described as unfashionable, but straightforward and clear and the "very basis of the criminal justice system": these were "punishment and reform". Subsequently, the Government's most recent identifiable over-arching criminal justice policy statement, published in December 2008, was entitled, Punishment and reform: our approach to managing offenders: a summary. This is summarised in the box below. As well as focusing on punishment and reform it reflected a concern over resource constraints and refers to balancing these objectives with the need to obtain value-for-money stated:

    A fair and effective criminal justice system must provide collective benefit: justice for victims and local communities, punishment and reform for offenders and value for the taxpayer […] Prison and probation have received record investment in recent years. But we must make considerable financial savings in the coming years, whilst ensuring that taxpayers receive the best value-for-money from their investment.[18]

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.


Use of custody

22. The Ministry of Justice estimates that up to 96,000 prison places will be required by 2014. Rt Hon David Hanson MP, then Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, described the factors contributing to this growth: "for good or evil, more people are being caught, sentences are longer and we have got more serious, dangerous and violent offenders serving longer sentences. Last year alone the number of people sentenced to life imprisonment rose by 5%."[19] This appears to acknowledge that the growth is a consequence of the intention outlined in Justice for All to promote tougher and speedier justice.

23. In 2006 the Government stated its intention that prison capacity should be determined by the need for prison places and, therefore, if people needed to be in prison sufficient places would be supplied.[20] Paul Tidball, President of the Prison Governors' Association, characterised the Government's stance as "an out-of-control demand met by provision of little more than penal warehousing" resulting in "a revolving door which spins ever faster and benefits nobody but those who see prisons as a market opportunity."[21] David Faulkner, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, agreed that the "predict and provide" approach is flawed as it results in system expansion rather than control.[22] Lord Dubs, Chairman of the Prisons Policy Group, added that it was both simplistic and limited as a policy and asserting that: "as a country and a society we can do better".[23] James McGuire, Professor of Forensic Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, described the approach as "atheoretical", commenting: "we do not really understand […] what are the mechanisms, the functions, the relationships between the different ingredients that contribute to the dependent variable, the amount of crime, the number of prison places that we will need."[24]

24. Concern was expressed to us that the expansion of prison capacity could in itself contribute to the need for further growth; in other words, the more prison places are provided, the more the courts will fill them. For example, in the USA, Circuit Court Judge Marcus, told us that he believed that until and unless prison is used more wisely "adding prison beds will promote […] the need for more beds".[25] In a critique of the Government's prison building programme, entitled Building on sand, Carol Hedderman, Professor of Criminology, University of Leicester, draws similar conclusions that expanding the prison estate can generate, rather than satiate, demand.[26]

25. Whether or not this is true, these arguments raise questions about the relationship between the availability, or otherwise, of prison places and the prevailing penal policy. The Justice Secretary denied that demand for prison places was a function of their supply, although he acknowledged that: "it is interesting that although the absolute pressure on the system has varied and is measured by whether you have to use police cells, as accommodation has been provided so the places are filled up."[27]

26. There is also a question about whether building more prison places really is the only, or best, solution to a mismatch between demand and supply. This has clearly taxed the current Government. The Justice Secretary's commitment to significant expansion appears to signal a recent shift in his personal approach to the value of prison building. In an address to the Prison Governors' Association AGM in 2007 he suggested that taking an approach to build as many prison places 'as it takes' was a risky option:

    Aside from the economic and practical considerations of such a scenario; higher taxes, fewer hospitals, less money for education, prisons in or near everyone's back yard, we have to question whether that approach would actually provide a remedy to the problems it seeks to solve: would crime fall even further? Would re-offending rates come down? This must be our baseline in considering the future of the prisons estate. The evidence is not encouraging. [28]

In contrast, on 13 May 2008, he told us in evidence that that having sufficient prison places was an important component of his strategy for reducing re-offending and that the additional places were required no matter what the arguments were about the greater use of community sentences and other efforts to reduce re-offending.[29] He explained that this was true both for serious and violent offenders who need immediate imprisonment and in cases where community punishments and disposals have failed.

27. This statement appears to be based on two assumptions: first, that prison is more, or equally, effective at reducing re-offending for persistent offenders (i.e. those for whom community punishments and other disposals have failed) and, secondly, that community sentences fail because they are inherently flawed, rather than because they are insufficiently resourced, inappropriately tailored or unrealistic expectations are raised about how 'desistance' can be achieved. Paul Cavadino, then Chief Executive of Nacro questioned this reasoning:

    I think we can sometimes have a double standard in discussing the issue of the repeat offender, because we tend to say, "We have tried fines and we have tried community penalties. The offender has re-offended. They did not work. Therefore, we must use custody". We less often say, "We have used custody. The offender re-offended. That did not work, so we ought to try something else". We tend to say, "We have tried custody. The offender re-offended, so we have to use custody again."[30]

DEVELOPMENTS IN SCOTLAND

28. In contrast to the Ministry of Justice's position, the Scottish Prisons Commission's report of July 2008 on prisons overcrowding in Scotland, took an overwhelmingly "demand-side" approach to the problem.[31] The Commission identified a choice facing the criminal justice system in Scotland over how to use imprisonment; a choice which appears to have been settled in England and Wales without any public debate or expert consultation. Overall, the Commission recommended that the Government should adopt and pursue a target for the average daily prison population focusing on those who have committed serious crimes and constitute a danger to the public with an aim to cut the population by approximately one-third.

29. The Scottish Prisons Commission's report called for:

  • the effective provision of community and conditional sentences which involve "payback" into the victim and/or the community, through financial payment, unpaid work, engaging in rehabilitative work or some combination of these, emphasising that one of the best ways for offenders to pay back is by turning their lives around;
  • legislation requiring sentencers to use these options instead of short sentences wherever possible;
  • a far greater emphasis in prisons on rehabilitation and reform and the preparation of those in custody for release and resettlement (with this reinforced as the sole purpose of the open prison estate); and
  • recognition across the public services of the need to support the reintegration of former offenders into communities.

The Commission predicted long-term savings from targeting the use of imprisonment but asserted the need for up-front investment in better services in, and for, communities.

TITAN PRISONS

30. When we began our inquiry the Government was preparing to spend £1.2 billion building three large and controversial prison complexes, known as "Titans", to provide sufficient capacity for the projected increase in the use of imprisonment and to remove some older unsuitable accommodation. This was recommended by Lord Carter of Coles in December 2007 in a report which we considered to be light on evidence and deeply flawed.[32] It was clearly and diametrically opposed to the policy set out in Justice for all of moving towards community prisons. As our inquiry was concluding, the Government announced that it was abandoning Titans, in favour of 5 prisons each with a capacity of 1500.[33] In our considered view, this is a marginal improvement but still goes a long way in the wrong direction. Rt Hon Maria Eagle MP, then newly appointed Minister for Prisons, told us—during evidence on another inquiry—that this decision had been made, after consultation, in order to achieve a "better balance […] in terms of balancing value-for-money, the economies of scale that one can have from size but also being effective at reducing re-offending and doing the job properly."[34] If this decision reflects the beginning of a genuine re-thinking of policy that will be very welcome. At the same time if other factors—such as emerging higher than forecast costs—have driven this change of emphasis it will help if Ministers will make that clear. Certainly, the Government remains committed to building large-scale custodial facilities to "get ahead of the curve of the increase [in the] prison population"[35] indicating its focus on a "supply-side" approach to the problem of a prison estate bursting at the seams. The first new prison is planned to start taking prisoners in 2013-14.[36]

31. Ministers claimed that much of the opposition to Titans stemmed from "misunderstanding around the concept."[37] We do not agree. It was apparent to us that objections related not to the concept but the principle. For example, Paul Tidball of the Prison Governors' Association described Titans as "the grotesque rabbit which emerged from the hat";[38] while Jonathan Aitken, Chairman of the Prison Reform Working Group at the Centre for Social Justice and former Minister, described them as a "very expensive way of making bad people worse".[39] Other witnesses objected to Titans on the basis that their rationale was solely efficiency and convenience. For instance, Lord Ramsbotham, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, described Titans as answering the question of 'how to house as many people as possible as cheaply as possible'.[40] The Justice Secretary conceded in evidence to us that the case for larger prisons was largely related to costs and the relative ease of getting planning permission;[41] Lord Dubs dismissed the latter rationale as "absurd".[42]

32. The second main objection to Titans was that the Government's primary rationale was too narrowly focused on efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the short-term and ignored the evidence about what constitutes a genuinely effective prison over the longer term and with regard to the wider aims of the criminal justice system. This criticism of tunnel vision remains valid in respect of the larger prisons to which the Government remains so far committed. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons has found that size is the best predictor that a prison will perform well, with smaller prisons consistently performing better than larger ones on most measures, including re-offending.[43] Prior to this finding, the Justice Secretary was dismissive of these arguments against larger prisons: "[…] smaller prisons may be rather more pleasant places but they are more expensive."[44] He later accepted that smaller prisons facilitated better regimes but re-affirmed that efficiency was the over-riding consideration.[45]

33. We expressed our concerns about the Government's proposals for building huge Titan prison complexes in our report, Towards effective sentencing. We are pleased that the Government has abandoned its plans for Titans 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.

Evidence base

34. In his first report in 2003, which recommended capping the prison population at 80,000, Patrick Carter, now Lord Carter of Coles, stated: "If there were new and convincing evidence on interventions that reduce crime then additional resources would need to be found (e.g. if greater use of custody was found to significantly reduce crime, more prisons would need to be built)."[46] Subsequent Ministry of Justice research suggests that imprisonment can be effective in reducing re-offending for those serving sentences of over 2 years,[47] although the evidential test which Lord Carter set in his first report remains unmet.

35. Concerns were raised about the evidence base for the conclusions of Lord Carter's 2007 report on the use of custody in evidence gathered during our Towards effective sentencing inquiry. Although Ministry of Justice research analyst, Dr Chloë Chitty, told us that Lord Carter had analytical support during the conduct of his review from internal Ministry of Justice researchers, we continue to believe that concerns about the extent to which his recommendations were based on a substantial body of evidence are justified.[48] In particular, there was limited investigation into the costs and benefits of various alternative approaches to managing the prison population.

36. On the demand side, the independent review team which supported Lord Carter looked at options to manage the use of custody and the potential impact of each option in terms of the number of prison places which could potentially be saved (see table 1); he also considered the anticipated timelines for each option to become effective. Options to reduce demand were graded according to the ease of implementation, and how palatable they would be to victims, the general public, lobby groups, the judiciary and government ministers. If the Government implemented all the proposed demand measures, the analysts who supported Lord Carter estimated that some 8,935 places could be saved. In the event, Lord Carter only recommended implementing the 'green' measures which would reduce places by 4,480. These measures were introduced in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.[49]


37. The evidence confirmed that all of these options involved reducing demand by making changes to the sentencing framework, the use of remand and the length of recall for breach. These are proposals based on a crude arithmetical model rather than careful analysis based on asking "what works?". There was no mention of alternative evidence-based options which could stem demand by reducing re-offending or devising options outside the criminal justice system for particular types of offenders or by targeting potential offenders. It appears that costs were not compared at all in weighing up recommendations to manage demand. On the supply side, by contrast, direct costs were an explicit consideration.[50]

38. A report by the organisation Rethinking Crime and Punishment considered alternative options to reduce the use of custody and devised indicative costs of investing more heavily in such initiatives.[51] Examples of such initiatives included strengthening community supervision for offenders receiving short-prison sentences; building a national network of women's centres as recommended by Baroness Corston (in the report of her review commissioned by the Home Office into women in the criminal justice system);[52] providing additional support to offenders with mental health problems; and, expanding intensive fostering to reduce the use of youth custody.

THE SENTENCING COUNCIL AND THE CORONERS AND JUSTICE ACT

39. Lord Carter said in his December 2007 review of prisons that the only alternative to continuous prison building, dangerous levels of prison overcrowding or continuous early release mechanisms was the development of a structured sentencing framework, developed and monitored by a permanent 'sentencing commission'.[53] Such a commission should be able to accurately predict how many prison places and probation spaces the sentencing framework would require, and therefore how much money the penal system would need, and then present this breakdown to Parliament. Where new legislation was proposed the commission would be able to work out the resource implications, in prison and probation terms, allowing Parliament to take an informed decision about whether the legislative aims justified the increased criminal justice expenditure.[54] Ultimately, such policy aims could include looking at the total resources spent on criminal justice and determining whether this was appropriate, and, if not, how sentencing must change within available resources.[55]

40. The Government introduced what is now the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 in January 2009. The Act introduces a new Sentencing Council for England and Wales to implement the unanimous and majority recommendations of Lord Justice Gage's working group set up in response to Lord Carter's report. Where our witnesses commented on the value of the provisions expected, or included, in this legislation we have been able to consider the appropriateness of the Act's provisions. We ourselves have made a report to the House specifically on Parliament's scrutiny of draft sentencing guidelines, in the light of the reforms expected at that time. In this report we set out the priority we attach to a focus on the cost implications and effectiveness (in terms of reducing re-offending) of different sentences and the importance of promoting public understanding of sentencing policy and hence confidence in the criminal justice system. We discuss these issues further in chapter 7 and note that the Ministry of Justice calculated that the reforms could potentially mean reducing the additional prison places needed, but by only 1,000.[56]

41. We conclude that Lord Carter's review of prisons and the use of custody was focused on the supply of prison places to meet demand and on efficiency. The only solution to changing the balance between supply and demand was the "sentencing commission". A strategy for controlling the growth in the use of custody was missing. This is not a constructive direction for policy as it ignores potential means of reducing demand. 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.

Reform of the governance of the criminal justice system

42. As part of its programme to tackle crime and reduce re-offending the Government has introduced new infrastructure, guidance and targets to strengthen the management of performance across the criminal justice system with the intention of bringing the individual component agencies closer together. The Government sought to clarify accountability for delivering the overall objectives of the criminal justice system at national level through the creation of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, led jointly by the Home Secretary, the Justice Secretary and the Attorney General, and supported by a National Criminal Justice Board (the Board).

43. The Board supports the Justice and Crime Cabinet Committee which has responsibility for monitoring delivery of the criminal justice system targets and, more recently, the Public Service Agreement objectives.[57] The Board oversees 42 local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) which co-ordinate the activity of criminal justice agencies (Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Her Majesty's Courts Service, Probation Service, Youth Offending Teams and Prison Service, with Victim Support and provides a forum for them to share responsibility for delivering national targets. Rather than having a clear focus on reducing re-offending (in terms of numbers and also seriousness of offences) these targets have focused on bringing more offences to justice and on catching more offenders. Steps have certainly been taken to improve the confidence of victims and witnesses; speed up court processes; and improve public confidence.[58]

44. Reflecting its assertion that "reducing re-offending should be everyone's business",[59] the Government has put in place arrangements aimed at both cross-departmental leadership and cross-departmental services. National cross-departmental activity to reduce re-offending is overseen by the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on Reducing Re-offending, established in 2004, which brings together relevant government departments. The IMG feeds up into the National Crime Reduction Board and National Criminal Justice Board which, together with the National Policing Board, co-ordinates the crime, criminal justice and reducing re-offending strategies. The Government has also made a cross-departmental commitment to target resources more effectively to reduce re-offending and to seek improvements in the delivery of a range of services to offenders which are the responsibility of statutory agencies outside the criminal justice system. The Ministry of Justice has estimated that up to 50% of the resources necessary to manage offenders and reduce re-offending lie outside the criminal justice system.[60]

45. The Ministry of Justice, and formerly the Home Office, set out a framework for cross-departmental, regional and local partnership work to reduce re-offending in a series of strategic plans which address the 'pathways', identified by the Social Exclusion Unit in 2002, which are known to reduce re-offending: accommodation; skills and employment; health inequalities; drugs and alcohol; children and families of offenders; finance, benefit and debt; and attitudes, thinking and behaviour.[61]

46. The creation of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Reducing Re-offending has resulted in joint ventures between departments aimed at addressing the education, employment and skills, benefits and health and mental health needs of offenders. These include, for example, Health and Offender Partnerships with Department of Health; the Offender Learning and Skills Service with Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (and formerly Department for Education and Skills) and efforts to improve access to support to enter employment alongside the Department for Work and Pensions. The Youth Justice Board, which was established by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act to oversee the youth justice system, is now jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Three broader schemes, known as alliances, have also been founded to promote greater involvement from employers, local authorities and voluntary and faith-based organisations in reducing re-offending.

47. In addition to specific activity to reduce re-offending, the Government has attempted to reduce first-time entrants into the criminal justice system by integrating longer-term crime prevention into the work of other departments including, for example, activity on child poverty, employment, educational standards and neighbourhood renewal. According to the Home Office, a significant amount of money has been committed to the prevention of offending.[62] A number of large-scale initiatives, including Sure Start, Healthy Living Centres and early entry to nursery education, have been introduced to intervene in the early years of childhood to improve the life chances of children with a poorer background and to reduce the likelihood of those children becoming involved in crime and other social problems at a later stage. We consider that these are long-term investments which will take some time to have an effect on trends in numbers of people within the criminal justice system.

48. The Government's progress in its cross-departmental activity to reduce re-offending is set out in Annex 1. We were surprised at the lack of information on how much new funding has been brought in from other departments since the implementation of the reducing re-offending action plan. With the notable exception of drug treatment, which has pooled funding arrangements, the Government has placed emphasis on encouraging mainstream providers to fund provision to address offending-related needs in the community through local commissioning processes and guidance. It is apparent that this strategy has had limited success. Provision has tended to come via the criminal justice system (for example at the point of arrest, in court or after sentence) rather than forming a safety net which prevents people entering or re-entering the system.

49. 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. The movement of resources and sharing of responsibility with Government departments outside the criminal justice system have undoubtedly been positive step forward in achieving more effective rehabilitation support for prisoners. Practice on helping prisoners to prepare for release and lead law-abiding lives in the community is not consistently available and is vulnerable to the effects of prisoner transfer resulting from over-crowding. 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.

Building mainstream provision to reduce crime and re-offending

50. Departments outside the criminal justice system have made progress in meeting their responsibilities to reduce re-offending but there is much more to be done. We heard that there remain significant difficulties in accessing the resources required from outside the criminal justice system. Departments have not fully faced up to their responsibilities and this has hindered progress in curtailing the expansion of the system. Many witnesses highlighted the lack of investment in community-based provision which could prevent crime and re-offending e.g. alcohol support, mental health treatment, learning disabilities, drug treatment, family and parenting, education and employment. [63] Some witnesses called for a redirection of resources from criminal justice to support greater investment in these areas. For example, the Revolving Doors Agency advocated greater emphasis on preventing re-offending outside the criminal justice system.[64] Nacro, the Local Government Association and Clinks called for better focused expenditure on tackling poor housing, education and health as causal factors related to crime.[65] Angela Greatley, then Chief Executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, supported greater primary health care involvement with people with low level mental health and drug and alcohol problems.[66] The Magistrates' Association argued that there was a need to make better use of existing social, health and education budgets for offenders, and called for greater inter-departmental communication and more cohesive policies.[67]

51. Our attention was drawn to variations in the quality of interaction between mental health, drugs and alcohol and criminal justice agencies which in turn determines the quality and accessibility of provision to offenders.[68] Ellie Roy, former Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, firmly believed that if there were strong mainstream services it would reduce the need to resort to the justice service but she described existing arrangements as "very dysfunctional".[69] Dr Miles Rinaldi of the New Directions Team, South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust, agreed that partnership agencies all still tend to work in silos,[70] but Alan Campbell MP, Home Office Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, insisted that the system was broadly working despite "an element of silo mentality", although he admitted that the question of finance in determining cross-departmental responsibilities can be thorny: "[Departments] can understandably be protective of their mainstream funding, and in effect we find sometimes within the government similar problems to the ones that partnership working can find on the ground".[71]

52. 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.

GOVERNANCE

53. Savas Hadjipavlou, then Head of the Health Policy and Strategy Unit, Ministry of Justice, identified weaknesses and variable effectiveness in the governance of partnership working between government departments, especially in the field of health.[72] Many of our witnesses emphasised the importance of using encounters with the criminal justice system to facilitate access to mental health treatment.[73]

54. The quality of governance in the youth justice system was also questioned. For example, Ellie Roy, then Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board cited difficulties encountered by youth offending teams in getting local partners outside the criminal justice system to fulfil their obligations towards children and young people who offend by facilitating access to mainstream services and making available appropriate provision to meet their needs.[74] Mike Thomas, Chair of the National Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, agreed that once a young person is labelled as an offender they are seen as a problem that youth offending teams are expected to resolve rather than being seen as a problem to be shared and tackled jointly; so young people are batted from agency to agency. [75] He commented that it is increasingly difficult for youth offending teams to tap into mainstream resources to increase expenditure on young offenders and he called for a demonstration of the benefits of such an approach.[76]

55. Zoë Billingham of the Audit Commission, described how competing local priorities had worked against each other prior to the introduction of local area agreements:

    […] we think that there has been a problem in the past about the setting of priorities by different organisations to drive community safety. On the one hand, police might be running after one set of priorities and outcomes in a community, the local government might be focused on another set of priority outcomes, the Probation Service on another set. [77]

56. Witnesses, including the Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association, also advocated a greater role for local authorities in tackling the underlying problems related to offending behaviour.[78] The Local Government Association report, Going Straight, noted many instances where services that are key to reducing re-offending and building safer communities are managed at a local level, for example: housing, benefits, education, employment and social services.[79] Some witnesses criticised local authorities for not engaging sufficiently with wider criminal justice issues (discussed further in chapter 6).[80] For example, Clive Martin, Director of Clinks, suggested that a battle of hearts and minds characterised local authority ownership of offenders.[81] The role of the voluntary sector is also under-utilised in the rehabilitation of prisoners.[82] According to Napo the number of new contracts won by voluntary sector to assist prisons and probation since 2004 has been negligible.[83]

57. Local authorities are not the only agency with responsibilities towards offenders. Commissioning activity to reduce re-offending is embedded in work by a range of local partnerships (and their component agencies), including local strategic partnerships (LSPs), crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) in England and community safety partnerships (CSPs) in Wales, multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA), drug action teams (DATs) and local criminal justice boards (LCJBs). Descriptions of these partnerships are set out in Annex 2.



12   Justice Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2007-08, Towards effective sentencing, HC 184-I Back

13   HC (2007-08), 184-I, para 110 Back

14   Justice Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2008-09, Sentencing Guidelines and Parliament: building a bridge,
HC 715 
Back

15   Justice for All, Cm 5563, July 2002, p 13 Back

16   Office for Criminal Justice Reform, The Criminal Justice System Business Plan 2008-09, February 2008, p 6 Back

17   The inter-relationship between these aims is explicitly recognised in the 2006 Home Office review, Rebalancing the Criminal Justice System in favour of the law abiding majority, which was subtitled, Cutting crime, reducing re-offending and protecting the public. Back

18   Ministry of Justice, Punishment and reform: our approach to managing offenders: a summary, December 2008, p 2 Back

19   Q 565 Back

20   Home Office, Rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the law-abiding majority, July 2006 Back

21   Ev 257 Back

22   Q 96 Back

23   Q 513 Back

24   Q 103 Back

25   Ev 188 Back

26   See, Professor Carol Hedderman, Building on sand: why expanding the prison estate is not the way to 'secure the future', Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (London, 2008). For example, she concludes that for most of the period that the use of custody has been rising, reconviction rates post-release have also been rising, and the higher frequency of reconvictions is partly fuelling the higher prison population. She also cites evidence to suggest that building more prisons as a policy response fuels the fear of crime and public debate about punishment. Back

27   Q 59 Back

28   Justice Secretary's address to the Prison Governors' Association AGM, 4 October 2009, http://www.justice.gov.uk Back

29   Q 35 Back

30   Oral evidence taken before the Justice Committee on 3 June 2008, HC (2008-09) 649-i, Q 11 Back

31   Scottish Prisons Commission, Scotland's Choice: Report of the Scottish Prisons Commission, July 2008  Back

32   HC (2007-08), 184-I; "Government still on course for 'Titanic' prison population", Justice Committee Chairman's press release, no. 27 of Session 2008-09, 27 April 2009 Back

33   "Jack Straw sets out prisons and probation plans", Ministry of Justice press release, 27 April 2009. Back

34   Justice Committee, Twelfth Report of Session 2008-09, Role of the Prison Officer, HC 361-II, Q 303 Back

35   Ibid, Q 308  Back

36   Ev 230 Back

37   Q 562 [Mr Hanson] Back

38   Ev 257 Back

39   Q 517 Back

40   Q 475 Back

41   Q 51 Back

42   Q 522 Back

43   HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Prison Performance, January 2009 Back

44   Q 52 Back

45   Q 53 Back

46   Patrick Carter, Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime: A new approach (London, 2003), p 5 Back

47   Ev 202-203 Back

48   Q 94 Back

49   The measure on Suspended Sentence Orders was dropped during the passage of the Bill bringing the potential reduction of places by demand measures to 4047. Back

50   The Ministry of Justice subsequently calculated the costs of building 1500 place prisons and the projected cost savings by closing older prisons, Ev 231. Back

51   Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Rethinking Crime and Punishment: The Manifesto, July 2008 Back

52  A As this report was being prepared for publication, the Ministry of Justice announced a new policy initiative to reduce women's prison places by 400 (around 10%) by March 2012 to free up funding for specialist services in the community aimed at turning vulnerable women away from crime (MoJ press release 181-09, 14 December 2009) Back

53   Lord Carter, Securing the future: Proposals for the efficient and sustainable use of custody in England and Wales, December 2007 Back

54   Sentencing Commission Working Group, Sentencing Commission Working Group consultation: A structured sentencing framework and Sentencing Commission, March 2008. In some areas, where similar structures already exist, the sentencing commission is able to use this information to advise on adjusting the sentencing framework to meet policy aims, for example in Minnesota, Oregon and Washington the framework was used to reduce imprisonment for property offenders and increase it for violent offenders. Back

55   For example, Virginia Sentencing Commission introduced risk assessment to divert lower risk offenders from custody. Missouri now takes risk-based decisions in its allocation of prison beds Ev 186. Back

56   Ministry of Justice, Impact Assessment of the Sentencing Council for England & Wales, 1 January 2008, p 4 Back

57   Ensuring effective co-ordination from government departments is driven at the highest level by a newly established National Crime Reduction Board (NCRB) chaired by the Home Secretary, which also drives government activity to reduce re-offending. Back

58   These targets do not explicitly focus on crime reduction, and may in fact contribute to the expansion of the system, but recent reform gives local criminal justice boards a new remit to reduce re-offending. Back

59   Home Office, Rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the law-abiding majority, July 2006, p 28 Back

60   Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Service Strategic and Business Plans 2009-10 to 2010-11, 2009 Back

61   Social Exclusion Unit, Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners, 2002  Back

62   Q 600 Back

63   Q 539 [Commander Jarman]; Ev 167; 180 [LGA and Clinks]; 237 [Napo]; 269 [Rainer]; 234-235 [Nacro] Back

64   Ev 289ff Back

65   Ev 180, 235 [LGA and Clinks, Nacro]  Back

66   Q 340 Back

67   Ev 182ff Back

68   Q 340 [Ms Greatley] Back

69   Q 202 Back

70   Q 357 Back

71   Q 587 Back

72   Qq 325, 326 Back

73   Q 517 [Lord Dubs]; Q145 [Professor McDougall]; Ev 183 [Magistrates' Association]; 295ff [Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health]; 288ff [Revolving Doors Agency]; 291 [Prison Reform Trust] Back

74   Q 200 Back

75   Q 229 Back

76   Q 215 Back

77   Q 266 Back

78   Ev 181 [LGA/Clinks]; Q 19 [Mr Beecham]; Q 516 [Mr Aitken] Back

79   Local Government Association, Going straight: reducing re-offending in local communities, 2005, p.11 Back

80   Q 304 [Rob James] Back

81   Q 459 Back

82   Q 516 [Mr Aitken] Back

83   Ev 239 Back


 
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