Skip to main content


Volume 553: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Prime Minister has restated our determination to apply an intelligent approach to reducing reoffending. By 2015, I intend to apply payment by results to the majority of rehabilitation work conducted with offenders in the community. In addition, the National Offender Management Service published its commissioning intentions for the coming financial year on 1 November, clearly stating our commitment to evidence-informed commissioning.

As the House heard earlier, the Ministry of Justice’s own survey has revealed that restorative justice can reduce reoffending by as much as 14%. These methods are being effectively used by probation and prison services in Durham, which has one of the lowest reoffending rates in the north-east. What further steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that this evidence-based approach is supported and has the necessary resources to be effective?

We are looking to allow for the greater use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system—for example, by allowing an element of restorative justice between a verdict and the sentence in court, to establish whether that can have an impact on the sentence that would otherwise be passed and the likelihood of the offender to reoffend. I would commend all those who are using restorative justice. It is a common-sense early intervention in the criminal justice system and there is no doubt that it is having an impact on offending rates.

When the Secretary of State is developing his evidence-based policy, will he look at the Ministry of Justice’s own figures, which show that the longer people spend in prison, the less likely they are to reoffend, and that the lowest reoffending rate for any sentence handed down by the courts is for indeterminate sentences for public protection?

May I say clearly to my hon. Friend that I share his view? I think prison is a very important part of the criminal justice system, I believe that offenders should serve a prison sentence appropriate for the crime they have committed and I have given a clear commitment that there will be no strategy under my leadership of the Ministry of Justice to reduce the number of prison places artificially. I want to see the right people going to prison in the first place.

The hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) spookily teed that up rather nicely for me. We all want to see policies based on evidence. The evidence tells us that the most effective means of protecting the public from convicted sex offenders is to keep them behind bars for as long as it takes to stop them being a threat. The Government took away so-called indeterminate sentences. It was a dangerous mistake and we said so at the time. When will the Secretary of State put that right and protect our citizens?

We have introduced longer determinate sentences to deal with the most serious offenders and, unlike the previous Government, we have introduced a “two strikes and you’re out rule” for the worst sex offenders, to ensure that if they offend for a second time, they will go to jail for the rest of their lives.