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Integrated Offender Management Framework

Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 18 September 2012

1. What steps he plans to take to ensure the future effectiveness of the integrated offender management framework through the funding of key partners. (121177)

Integrated offender management arrangements are helping to reduce crime and reoffending in local areas through effective partnership working and multi-agency co-ordination. A key strength of the approach is that it makes best use of the resources available locally. Many probation trusts and prisons are following an IOM approach. We hope that local partners will continue to invest in such approaches where they are delivering strong outcomes and offering best value for money.

I spent a day looking at IOM in Scunthorpe recently and was impressed by what I saw. Will the Secretary of State work with colleagues from the Department for Work and Pensions to give probation services using IOM the flexibility to provide intensive support to get offenders into jobs through projects such as Empower in north Lincolnshire, rather than allowing them to languish on an unresponsive Work programme?

Given my last job and my current job, I am probably pretty well positioned to ensure that the two Departments work closely together. I strongly believe in the linkage between the rehabilitation of offenders and work to try to get former offenders into employment, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the two Departments will work closely together to achieve that goal.

On behalf of the Select Committee on Justice, may I welcome the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor to his office and wish him well?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that he is responsible for spending a lot of public money to ensure that people who come out of prison are effectively managed and assisted so that they give up on crime, and that we use prison for those for whom it is necessary, but use other means to get other people away from crime?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his kind words of welcome. I look forward to having many dealings with his Committee, and no doubt some sharp questioning. Let me assure him that I view rehabilitation very much as a significant element of our criminal justice system. It will be a major theme of the work I do at the Ministry of Justice. Although people may have to go to prison in recognition of the offences they have committed, it is absolutely right and proper that we should do everything we possibly can to ensure that they do not go back.

I am pleased to see the Minister in his new role. Will he take a look at the “Choose change” project, which has been running in Manchester for a number of years, working with offenders in prison to prepare for all aspects of their lives on release? It has been an extremely interesting exercise in dealing with all the things that may lead prisoners back into crime on release, and practitioners in Manchester would very much welcome it if the new Minister paid a visit.

The hon. Lady is making an early bid. I can assure her that I have every intention of spending as much time as I can away from Westminster, looking at the work being done in the public sector, as well as by those working with the public sector, to try to understand where we can improve and build on existing successes. I am sure that if I am in Manchester and the opportunity arises, I shall do as she suggests.

Let me take this opportunity to welcome the Justice Secretary to his place—and, indeed, the prisons Minister and the other Ministers to their places. They say a new broom sweeps clean, so let us have a go. The last Justice Secretary thought that indeterminate sentences were a scandal. We are all hoping that the new Justice Secretary, given his comments in the past, is looking at how to introduce some form of risk-based release. However, given the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights this morning, how long are we likely to have to wait?

The ECHR ruling this morning was very much about rehabilitation, about which I feel strongly and which needs to be clear and present in prisons, as well as after prison. However, I am very disappointed by the ECHR decision this morning. This is not an area where I welcome the Court seeking to make rulings, and we intend to appeal this morning’s decision.