Written evidence from Make Justice Work
l. SUMMARY OF
In order to deliver effective and sustainable intensive
community sentencing, the Probation Service must be resourced
and supported appropriately. The prison population is at an all
time high and with the stringent financial savings which are to
made to cut the country's deficit, it is critical that Probation
and the services it delivers remain intact and strengthened if
the government are to be able to reduce the prison population
safely and appropriately.
This submission wishes to outline that:
1. Without the expertise and experience of the
Probation Service, neither the Police, Courts, Voluntary Sector
nor Private Sector, will be able to deliver the type of community
punishment which can effectively impact on crime reduction and
the number of victims.
2. MJW intends to evaluate objectively the effectiveness
of the work of not just intensive community sentencing, but also
the role of courts, restorative justice and the voluntary sector
in reducing re-offending.
3. It is essential to support the continued funding
and commitment to intensive community sentences and the necessary
promotion of these programmes to give confidence to the public,
ministers, key stakeholders and the media that they can impact
on reduce re-offending and public safety.
Only with a strong, confident and well resourced
Probation Service can there be a proper structure to deal with
the likely increase in offenders on community sentences should
the government made good its promise to reduce the use of prison
for low level offenders. The real danger is that appropriate community
alternatives are not put in place speedily and efficiently in
time to deal with any changes in sentencing.
Any reduction in the use of prison will put enormous
pressure on the Probation Service at a time when resources are
being cut back. Yet the role of the Probation Service, with its
vast experience and understanding of community sentences, is critical
in establishing the most appropriate ways of dealing with both
low level and high risk offenders. Now is the time to consolidate
and build on good practice not to throw the baby out with the
3. MAKE JUSTICE
Make Justice Work is a new campaigning organisation
designed to make the argument in the media and to politicians,
civil servants and key stakeholders that the criminal justice
system is in urgent need of reform: it is ineffective at reducing
re-offending and inefficient at spending public money. Crucially,
we plan to focus on the costliness of locking up low level offenders
and the futility of short term sentences while at the same time
promoting more effective ways of reducing re-offending and improving
public safety. Ultimately, we hope to bring about a fundamental
sea change in public attitudes to how Britain deals with the punishment
and rehabilitation of offenders - one which results in less use
of custody, greater investment in effective community rehabilitation
and fewer victims.
MJW has over 130 ambassadors supporting its work,
including Martha Lane Fox (entrepreneur), Ruth Bond (Chair of
the Women's Institute), and Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC (leading
barrister and campaigner), Lord David Ramsbotham, Amir Khan (Boxer)
and Simon Woodroffe (founder of YO Sushi and ex Dragons Den).
4. FACTUAL INFORMATION
MJW commissioned Matrix Knowledge to undertake a
substantial piece of research last year "Are short term prison
sentences an efficient and effective use of public resources?"
This research proves that short term prison sentences are ineffective
at reducing crime, are financially wasteful and that further commitment
and investment must be put into alternatives to custody if we
are to see a real reduction in crime and the number of victims.
The research reveals that the majority of community sentences
provide similar or better value for money and effectiveness than
short-term prison sentences. Furthermore, when looking at prisoners
with drug problems the comparative savings and effectiveness provided
by community based sentences rise massively. Diverting one offender
from custody to residential drug treatment would save society
approximately £200,000 over the lifetime of the offender.
The annual saving per offender who is given intensive supervision
with drug treatment is £60,000.Tellingly, these figures not
only include capital cost savings for the state but savings to
society in terms of both reduced financial costs and reduced pain
and suffering. The estimated cost savings per annum if drug using
offenders given short sentences over the course of just one year
(2007) were given residential drug treatment instead, would have
been £60-£100 million per annum for the first six years
At the same time we commissioned ComRes to poll a
group of business leaders to assess their attitudes and opinions
towards short-term prison sentences. The findings were compelling.
When looking at paying back society 77% agreed that community
sentences are a more effective way of low-level offenders paying
back victims and society, while only 17% disagreed with this statement.
Of those polled 68% say that community sentences
are more cost-effective and provide offenders with routes away
from crime and re-offending.
In contrast when posed with the statement "prison
sentences for low-level offenders are effective and offer value
for money" only 18% agree while 43% disagree and 28% strongly
Finally, the business leaders were also asked about
the issue of employment. 72% agreed that low-level offenders are
more employable if they have been subject to a community rather
than prison sentence. Tellingly this overall figure rises when
looking specifically at business leaders from industries likely
to employ ex-offenders. For example 77% of business leaders from
the manufacturing sector agree with the above statement.
In July 2010, Make Justice Work launched its National
Commission of Enquiry: Community or custody: which works best?
This is the premise of a unique and timely high level national
enquiry. It will seek to develop conclusive recommendations for
solving the problem of low level offending.
The terms of reference for the enquiry are to investigate
the efficacy and cost of short term prison sentences versus robust
community based alternatives for low-level offenders.
The enquiry is chaired by leading broadcaster and
columnist Peter Oborne and led by six renowned experts who have
each had distinguished careers across a broad spectrum of issues
intersecting with the criminal justice system:
Blair, Former Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police
Hooper, Director and Founder of Make Justice Work
Anne Owers, Former Chief Inspector of Prisons
McDowell, Chief Executive of Nacro
Sharp, Interim Chief Executive of Victim Support
Thornhill, Chair of the Magistrates Association
The enquiry was launched in July in Manchester, focusing
on MOJ/Probation's successful Intensive Alternative to Custody
programme, and will report back in Spring 2011. The enquiry will
tour the UK taking evidence from local experts and practitioners
about ground-level experience of low-level offending and the relative
efficacy and cost of short-term prison sentences or community-based
alternatives for tackling the problem. The next project we will
investigate will be the Bradford Together Women Project, looking
specifically at the challenges and benefits of punishing women
in the community.
Its purpose is to provide an objective overview of
how community sentences work, what the challenges are and what
works in practice. It is intended that the feedback from each
event will provide a piece of living evidence which will strengthen
the government's resolve to divert funding away from prisons for
short sentenced prisoners to effective community alternatives.
In the meantime, we continue to visit and identify
multi-disciplinary community sentencing programmes which identify
how positive relationships between courts, police, probation,
the voluntary and private sectors impact on reducing re-offending.
5. THE ROLE
Intensive Alternative to Custody Pilot (IAC)Greater
Manchester Probation Trust. IAC targets 18-25 year old males living
in Salford and Manchester who have crossed the custody threshold
and without an IAC order would receive a custodial sentence of
less than 12 months. IAC orders include a number of unique features
that make them more punitive than a standard community order and
they are designed to meet the challenges of each particular offender.
This includes electronic tagging and rapid response to reoffending
behaviour, intensive supervision, training and education 365 days
a year, holistic family support and reintegration work that involves
offenders families and closest significant adults in the rehabilitation
process, and individual mentoring for each offender. http://www.gm-probation.org.uk/what-we-do/in-the-community.php.
The Enquiry's findings substantiate the impressive
work being undertaken by Probation and its partners in Manchester.
It is clear that the private (G4S), business (Work Solutions)
and the voluntary sector (POPSPartners of Prisoners) are
a critical part of the programme and are contributing greatly
to the success of the programme. Equally, the Police play a crucial
part in the programme, as do the courts. Key criteria to the success
of such programmes are already emerging, and not surprisingly,
relationships between key workers, a relevant and substantial
work day, support into employment and training and work with offenders
and their families are core.
There is every reason to believe that this type of
programme (of which there are a number in the UK) can be replicated
and embedded elsewhere and that Probation, as the lead provider,
is in an excellent position to facilitate such programmes.
6. HANDLING DIFFERENT
TWP is now an independent charity with centres across
Yorkshire. Currently, there are TWP centres in Leeds, Bradford,
Doncaster and an outreach centre in Keighley and another based
at New Hall Prison. TWP is currently in the process of setting
up one-stop shop centres in both Hull and Sheffield with local
The Together Women Project Yorkshire and Humberside
(TWP) delivers intensive support to female offenders and women
at risk of offending aged 18 or over. TWP aims to:
(1) Support women to tackle triggers of offending
behaviour so they can break the cycle of offending that many women
become trapped in.
(2) Divert women from custody (where appropriate).
(3) Prevent family breakdown and reduce social
(4) Ultimately help vulnerable women to turn
their lives around.
Why the Together Women Project?
Considerable investment and commitment has gone into
developing key recommendations from the Corston Report.
Some of the key recommendations are:
sentences for women must be reserved for serious and violent offenders
who pose a threat to the public.
unlikely to receive a custodial sentence should not be remanded
must never be sent to prison for their own good, to teach them
a lesson, for their own safety or to access services such as detoxification.
supported bail placements for women suitable to their needs must
who are primary carers of young children should be remanded in
custody only after consideration of a probation report on the
probable impact on the children.
solutions for non-violent women offenders should be the norm.
sentences must be designed to take account of women's particular
vulnerabilities and domestic and childcare commitments.
must be informed about the existence and nature of those schemes
that do exist and should support and visit them.
restrictions placed on sentencers around breaches of community
orders must be made more flexible as a matter of urgency.
178 Criminal Justice Act 2003 should be implemented more generally.
information schemes in women's prisons must be properly resourced
monitored and used.
Whilst women represent only a small minority within
the offending world, they are overly represented in the criminal
justice system. Most women serve very short sentences. In 2008
64% were sentenced to custody for six months or less (Ministry
of Justice (2009) Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2009,
London: Ministry of Justice).
Women are the obvious first group to divert away
from custody. They are the group which are the likely carers of
the next generation of offenders and therefore, investment in
women in the system is absolutely essential if there is to be
any chance of breaking the cycle of offending in the next generation.
(65% of boys who have a parent in prison go on to offendPrison
Advice and Care Trust Annual Review 2008-09).
Alternatives to Custody to be expanded.
publicity through local and national media around the work of
Probation (eg Local Crime, Community Sentence (LCCS), Moving On
series of short films, "Nominate a project for Community
Court and judges to receive training to support their understanding
of community sentencing. Many would like to see much more available
in the community and they should have a voice which reflects this
wish both in the media and government.
opportunities for courts to monitor and support offender progress.
investment in diversion from custody schemes for women and women's
centres. It is critical that current investment is not cut as
this would result in the loss of extremely effective provision
and expertise, meaning costs to the state and society would rise
through unintended consequences.
investment in drug and alcohol requirements attached to orders.
appropriate and supported caseloads for probation officers via
the voluntary and private sector if necessary.
for the Probation Service to engage in more innovative solutions:
See Turning the Corner: Beyond incarceration and re-offending.
appointment of a National Probation Champion.