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Reoffending Rates

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2013

Reoffending has been too high for too long; 47.2% of those released from custody in the year to March 2011 reoffended within a year.

We want to reduce reoffending and extend rehabilitation services to those who need it. Our recent consultation on reforming the way offenders are rehabilitated in the community set out our plans for this area.

Northamptonshire probation trust has a great record of reducing reoffending, and local probation workers are shocked that the Government intend to put its core work out to tender. Will the Minister confirm whether, if the trust sets up a special purpose vehicle to bid, that will be ultra vires as the National Offender Management Service has suggested, and whether the staff involved would have to resign first?

I am happy to reassure the hon. Gentleman that not only would that not be disallowed, the Cabinet Office is providing advice for probation trusts that want to do that.

Does the Minister agree that long prison sentences are more successful in deterring reoffending than short sentences?

Those who are sentenced to less than 12 months certainly have a higher propensity to reoffend—57% as opposed to 47%—but the length of a sentence is dictated by the seriousness of the offence. A failure in the current system, which the scheme that we are introducing will address, is that those who come out after a shorter sentence have no rehabilitation. We will provide that under the new system, and we hope and expect that that will bring down the reoffending rate among precisely the group he complains about.

Will the Minister acknowledge that preventing reoffending among women requires the provision of specialist and specifically targeted and designed services to meet their holistic needs within the context of the criminal justice system? What steps will Ministers take to ensure that the payment-by-results model will protect that specialist provision for women?

The precise point of the payment-by-results system and of bringing new people into the system will be to allow providers with specialist skills—for example, in dealing with women offenders—to bring those abilities, skills and experience to bear so that we have much more targeted and tailored rehabilitation than in the past. Specific groups, including obviously women offenders, will be rehabilitated more effectively in the future.

Seven out of 10 young people released from prison go on to reoffend within 12 months. Despite all the best efforts of those involved in the current system, it is obvious that it is failing. What does the Minister intend to do to improve the situation?

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained, we completely agree with my hon. Friend’s analysis that the current system is not good enough. Reoffending rates have been broadly flat for the last 10 years, despite an enormous increase in public spending in that area. We want to introduce payment by results, new ideas, new people and new providers not just so that more people are rehabilitated after they leave prison, but so that the rehabilitation system is better and more targeted.