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Criminal Justice

Volume 592: debated on Monday 2 February 2015

I am delighted to announce that I have now signed a commencement order that brought into force the remaining uncommenced provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) on 1 February 2015. This marks another significant step in implementing the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which will reduce the stubbornly high rate of reoffending which has been far too high for far too long.

For the first time we will be giving virtually all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation. The most significant change the ORA makes is to extend statutory supervision to the 45,000 offenders a year who are released from short prison sentences of less than 12 months, the majority of whom currently receive no statutory supervision after completing a custodial sentence. This group of offenders have the highest reoffending rates of any group: almost 60% of adult offenders released from short prison sentences in the year to March 2013 went on to reoffend within the next 12 months.

The changes the ORA makes mean that any offender whose offence was committed on or after 1 February, and who is sentenced to a custodial term of more than one day, will in the future receive at least 12 months of supervision and support after release.

The ORA also makes a number of changes to the sentencing and release framework set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, including expanded drug testing powers for offenders released from custody and the creation of a new rehabilitation activity requirement that can be imposed on offenders serving sentences in the community.

Along with the provisions of the ORA coming in to force, on 1 February the new providers have also taken ownership of, and begun running, the 21 community rehabilitation companies which will manage low and medium risk offenders.

In addition, I have published revised national standards for the management of offenders and national training guidelines in line with the requirements of the Offender Management Act 2007. The standards and guidelines apply to all providers of probation services engaged in the management of offenders and delivering the sentence of the court.

The standards set out the minimum requirements for the effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence orders, supervision on licence and or the new post-sentence supervision period. I have placed a copy of these standards in the House Libraries.

A competent workforce to transform rehabilitation provides a set of guidelines for the qualifications, training and experience of officers involved in delivering probation services and is available on line at: http://www.parliament. uk/writtenstatements.