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Rehabilitation Services

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2015

2. What assessment he has made of the performance of new providers of rehabilitation services in the rehabilitation of short-term prisoners. (908084)

The coalition is committed to transforming rehabilitation in order to reduce reoffending and, consequently, to reduce the number of people who are victims of crime. Since 1 February under the new system, providers from the public, voluntary and private sectors have been providing the new transforming rehabilitation services. The crucial thing is that all those people who are currently sentenced to less than a year in prison will have support when they come out. They are the people who reoffend most and who cause the most victims. Payments to providers will be dependent on results.

I realise that the Minister is not a prisoner, but I am not sure that being forced to answer so many questions will aid his rehabilitation when he is obviously struggling with a very sore throat. That seems to be a considerable unkindness.

I welcome the measures that the Ministry of Justice has taken to work with short-term prisoners. I think that this is the first time we have ever seen that happening, and it has become possible only because of the pioneering approach of the Ministry. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital to work with short-term prisoners, who often have more deeply rooted offending behaviour than many other types of offenders?

I am grateful to you for your concern, Mr Speaker. The Secretary of State offered me the chance to opt out, but I volunteered to come here and do my duty, so I hope I am forgiven. I might have to curl up and hide in the corner in a minute, however.

I would say to the hon. Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) that in the year ending last March, 57% of all adult offenders released from custody after serving a sentence of less than 12 months reoffended within a year. They are the largest group of reoffenders. They are the people who cause the most victims the most grief and the criminal justice system the most cost. We have never had a Government who have dealt with this issue, but we have been determined to do so and I believe that the way in which we rehabilitate those people will be transformational.

I welcome the Government’s decision to introduce drug scanners into prisons. As the Minister knows, 51% of prisoners report a drug dependency. Can he tell me how many have entered a rehabilitation scheme in the past year, and how many have been successfully rehabilitated in relation to their use of drugs?

I do not have all the details, but I will ensure that the right hon. Gentleman has a detailed answer, which I will put in the Library. Yesterday, when I was visiting a women’s prison in Yorkshire, I was looking at how we might improve the way in which we detect drugs. It is difficult because they are often hidden in very private places. We are absolutely determined to stop drugs coming into prisons over the wall, but also to stop them coming in on the person, which is a serious issue. I will give him the detailed figures on what progress we are making.

I, along with a small group of colleagues from the House, visited Brixton prison towards the back end of last year. We saw the benefits of the work that is being undertaken in two facilities there: the Clink restaurant and the Bad Boys bakery. Those benefits include a reoffending rate of only about 3%. That is the kind of work that short-term offenders need to give them the chance to restart their lives in a positive way.

Within the Department, I have particular responsibility for all female offenders. I have visited every single female prison and I am clear that the schemes that rehabilitate people through engaging with them and planning for training, work and housing are absolutely central. We are committed to using such schemes. May I also take this opportunity to say that there are some phenomenally excellent leadership teams in all our prisons, as well as many other people who are assisting with this project? The hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that we need to give people incentives so that they can see their route out of prison and understand that life outside is better. That will give them hope for the future.