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Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to (a) support offenders and (b) ensure that offenders do not re-offend after custodial sentences have been served. [113750]

The National Probation Service (NPS) and the Prison Service work closely to meet the needs of offenders during and after custody to help ensure their effective reintegration into the community on release. A wide range of programmes and interventions has been introduced for offenders both in custody and under supervision in the community.In 2002–03 the provisional outturn figures show that 50,700 prisoners received detoxification for drugs dependency, 4,808 benefited from treatment on rehabilitation programmes and 51,802 received an initial assessment for the Counselling, Assessment, Referral, Advice and Throughcare Services (CARATs) scheme. 6,000 offenders on a Drug Treatment Testing Order (DTTO) received treatment for drugs and offending behaviour. More than 11,000 offenders have taken part in one or more accredited offending behaviour programmes either in custody or in the community since January 2001 and around 30,000 offenders gained a basic literacy or numeracy qualification in the past year.The Prison Service in England and Wales does not maintain a central record of establishments with link workers helping to resettle prisoners on release. The Prison Service works in partnership with the National Probation Service, Youth Offending Teams, Connexions, Jobcentre Plus, housing authorities and voluntary sector organisations, which provide a range of resettlement support for released prisoners. The Prison Service Custody To Work initiative, with an additional £14.5 million a year from April 2003, is supporting the development of these partnerships, geared to improving employment, training and accommodation outcomes for released prisoners.Two recent reports "Reducing Re-offending by ex-prisoners" and "Through the Prison Gate" have reinforced the importance of joining up the contributions of a wide range of agencies to maintain the work of the Prison and Probation Services in supporting offenders to break the cycle of reoffending. The Home Office"s Adult Offenders and Rehabilitation Unit has recently held meetings attended by a number of different agencies, Departments and voluntary sector partners to address the issues raised in these reports. The outcome of these meetings will be the formulation of an action plan to promote wider joined-up working to deal effectively with the wide ranging needs of offenders.The National Probation Directorate provides strategic funding to several voluntary sector organisations including core funding for the Society of Voluntary Associates (SOVA) and MACRO, to deliver services supporting offender resettlement including drugs, accommodation, employment and training.