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Volume 585: debated on Tuesday 9 September 2014

Overall reoffending rates have barely changed over the past decade. Under our transforming rehabilitation reforms, we will draw on the best services from across the public, private and voluntary sectors in order to deliver better rehabilitation support to more offenders, reduce the number of potential victims and make our communities safer. For the first time in recent history, virtually every offender released from custody will receive statutory supervision, rehabilitation and mentoring support in the community.

A4e recently pulled out of a £17 million contract to deliver education and training in London prisons. It has been suggested that one reason for that is staff shortages so severe that there are not enough officers to escort prisoners to classes. If prisoners who want to learn cannot even get to the classroom, what does that say about the Government’s so-called rehabilitation revolution?

May I encourage the Justice Secretary to look at innovative ways of tackling reoffending? My neighbouring constituency in Barnet is looking at using GPS monitoring in new ways that go beyond traditional electronic monitoring and the Serco-G4S expensive model, and into ways that tackle the behaviour of some of the most prolific offenders. It is having great results.

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. The arrival of GPS tags in this country provides a great opportunity for the criminal justice system in a variety of different ways. We will have first access to that technology in a form that is sufficiently robust to be used in courts if necessary later this year, and I think it has great potential.

The right hon. Gentleman needs to know that the cost of reoffending is now the same as holding the London Olympics every single year. There is now more overcrowding, less education, and more violence in our prisons than ever before. Why will he not admit that the only intervention his Government have made in the past four and half years that has had the effect of reducing reoffending statistics is the one when he decided to change the way he would calculate those statistics?

I am afraid I have to correct the hon. Lady. At the moment our prison system is at its least overcrowded for 10 years, and the number of prisoners going through education is set to increase significantly this year.

Will the Secretary of State say what action his Department is taking to reduce the trend in shop theft, particularly where that might fuel a drug or substance habit?

That is one reason why I think it is important that we address the caution system, because it has been possible for somebody who commits an act such as shop theft simply to receive a caution again and again. Those people must come to court to be dealt with properly by our magistrates, and that is why the measures in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill are so important.