Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

1 Jul 2002 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 1st July 2002.

Prisoners: Resettlement

Baroness Wilkins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish their response to the joint thematic report Through the Prison Gate published by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Chief Inspector of Probation. [HL5002]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Through the Prison Gate was the first joint thematic report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Probation on the theme of resettlement. The two chief inspectors have provided an authoritative and thoughtful analysis of what the prison and probation services are doing together to re-integrate offenders back into the community and so reduce re-offending and of what more both services need to do. We are very grateful to them for this analysis, much of which is reinforced in the report Reducing re-offending by Ex-Prisoners published today by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU).

Both of these reports recognise the importance of identifying the factors which need to be addressed for individual offenders if the risks of them re-offending are to be reduced. They also recognise the importance of developing an integrated approach to the management of offenders throughout their sentence.

The chief inspectors' report makes recommendations on the need for:

    a national resettlement strategy;

    the position of short-term prisoners to be taken into account when reviewing the sentencing framework;

    the Prison and Probation Services to develop the What Works strategy and to achieve consistency and continuity in preventing re-offending and reintegrating offenders into the community;

    a case management approach, and of the Prison and Probation Services to review the respective roles of their staff at different stages of a prison sentence;

    the Prison Service to develop a strategy for prisoners to be located closer to home;

    the Prison and Probation Services to develop a co-ordinated partnership plan as part of their What Works resettlement strategy;

    both services to develop a joint strategy for drug and alcohol misuse;

    both services to provide guidance on the role of home detention curfew (HDC); and

    both services to ensure that a national public protection policy is developed for the assessment and management of risk in all cases.

1 Jul 2002 : Column WA2

Many of these issues are also picked up in the SEU report. The Government will now be producing an action plan setting out our proposals for taking forward the recommendations. In drawing up that action plan we will also take account of the recommendations made by the chief inspectors.

As the chief inspectors acknowledge, the Prison and Probation Services have made progress in developing and co-ordinating their resettlement policies under the What Works approach. However, there is a need for greater overall strategic direction, including greater sharing of good practice and performance targets.

We have already taken steps to provide greater strategic direction by making arrangements for the establishment of the correctional services board, which will bring together the heads of the Prison and Probation Services and the Chair of the Youth Justice Board. Outside experience and skills will be provided by non-executive members. Early priorities for the board will include the development of a strategic plan for the correctional services, with a particular focus, as the report recommends, on improving provision for those sentenced to less than 12 months, and, in particular, 18 to 20 year-old offenders.

In taking forward both the chief inspectors' and the SEU reports we will also be developing a national resettlement strategy. Details will be set out in the action plan which will now be developed.

That action plan will also include proposals for developing and piloting a case management approach, as recommended by the chief inspectors, building upon the pilot schemes which the Prison and Probation Services are already running.

Through the Prison Gate draws attention to the benefits of keeping prisoners closer to their homes in the months before release and to the benefits of home detention curfew in helping prisoners prepare for release. We believe that HDC can play an important part in helping offenders to settle back into the community in a controlled way.

We also recognise the advantages for resettlement of prisoners being able to serve their sentences closer to home. Although the increasing prison population makes it difficult to achieve this, we will continue to explore both nationally and regionally what more can be done to minimise the number of prisoners held outside their home area.

The importance of tackling drug and alcohol problems is highlighted in both Through the Prison Gate and the SEU report. A good deal of investment has been made by both services in this area, but there is clearly more to be done, particularly in ensuring continuity of care and of provision in the community. We will be addressing this issue further as we take forward the planning and implementation of our resettlement strategy.

Through the Prison Gate also highlights the importance for a national public protection policy of the assessment and management of risk in all cases. The effective management of dangerous offenders is a priority for both the Prison and Probation Services. Both services have a detailed programme of work in

1 Jul 2002 : Column WA3

support of their public protection objectives and are represented on the Home Office Dangerous Offenders Advisory Group. The establishment of multi-agency public protection panels has placed a statutory duty on police and probation services to make joint arrangements for the assessment and management of sexual, violent and other offenders who may cause serious harm. These panels work closely with the prison service and other agencies in managing the risk presented by such offenders. In addition, the National Probation Service is working with the Police Information Technology Organisation on the development of a joint police/probation database which will cover all offenders falling under the public protection duty placed on the police and the National Probation Service by the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.

Both services are also working together with the Parole Board to develop revised guidance on the settling of licence conditions to ensure a more consistent approach and are piloting the use of electronic monitoring as a licence condition, focusing in particular on dangerous offenders.

A detailed commentary on all the recommendations contained in the inspectorates' report describing work currently in hand by the Prison Service and the National Probation Service has been placed in the Library.

Through the Prison Gate, together with the SEU report, has set out a challenging set of tasks for the new correctional services board. We will in due course be publishing an action plan setting out our detailed proposals in response to the SEU report and the recommendations of the chief inspectors.

Trafficking People

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the offence of people trafficking contained in Schedule 2, paragraph 3 to the Proceeds of Crime Bill is adequate to combat people trafficking in its various guises.[HL4798]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The offence currently specified in Schedule 2, paragraph 3, covers smuggling (facilitation of illegal entry) rather than trafficking. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill contains a new offence of trafficking for the purposes of controlling someone in prostitution, and we will include this offence in Schedule 2.

We have made clear that we regard this as a stop-gap offence pending the introduction of wider offences of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation when parliamentary time permits. We will review how the POC provisions should apply to any new offences of people trafficking that are created.

1 Jul 2002 : Column WA4

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For each of the last five years, what sum has been recovered by way of confiscation from those prosecuted for involvement in the sexual exploitation of women.[HL4888]

Lord Filkin: Under current legislation, the commercial sexual exploitation of women is not a specific legal offence. There are a number of exisiting offences relating to those who profit from the prostitution of others such as running a brothel. Information relating to the sums recovered as a result of confiscations from prosecutions in these cases is not currently centrally collected.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What sums of money have been set aside to help victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation.[HL4889]

Lord Filkin: In the White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven we have set out a comprehensive approach for victims in order to facilitate their giving evidence agianst the traffickers who have brought them here to exploit them. In co-operation with the voluntary sector, we will make arrangements for their protection and in some cases we recognise that it may be appropriate for them to remain here. We will also provide support for those returning to their home countries. This initiative will run on a trial basis for six months in the first place so that we can evaluate its impact. The funding arrangements are under discussion.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page