The Government are grateful to the Justice Committee for its contribution to the debate on how to cut crime, reduce reoffending and manage some of the most difficult individuals in our society. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice published our response on Tuesday 16 March.
I am delighted that the response is so positive. The strength of the Committee’s report is that it looks across the whole criminal justice system instead of being trapped in one part of it. What victims want—other than not becoming victims in the first place—is not to become victims again. Given that, is it not essential that all parts of the criminal justice system, whatever Department they come under, are clear that they are required to focus on reducing offending and reoffending?
It is absolutely vital that we tackle reoffending. That is key to preventing further offending because, sadly, a number of people still go through the prison and justice systems but then ultimately reoffend. Reoffending rates for both adults and youths have fallen by 20 per cent. since 2000, but we need to do more. I know that there is a consensus on that in the House, and it means we must look at employment opportunities, housing and reintegration, and at ensuring that people leave prison in a better place than when they went in.
I welcome the Government’s positive response, but does the Minister accept that the Home Office has an opportunity to develop strategies that will save people from ever becoming victims of crime in the first place—especially if he is able to get his hands on some of the money that might otherwise be committed to further prison expansion?
One of the key things that I have tried to encourage, both as a Justice Minister and now as a Home Office Minister, is integrated offender management. That means that we look at managing offenders through the system, from prison through release and back into the community, where police and probation services work together with important local authority services to make sure that everyone has an opportunity not to reoffend in the future. I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s report. I think that it has some merit, and the Government have responded in what I hope is a positive way.