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Prisoner Rehabilitation Services

Volume 597: debated on Tuesday 23 June 2015

1. What his plans are for the future of rehabilitation services for prisoners; and if he will make a statement. (900485)

2. What his plans are for the future of rehabilitation services for prisoners; and if he will make a statement. (900486)

10. What his plans are for the future of rehabilitation services for prisoners; and if he will make a statement. (900494)

14. What his plans are for the future of rehabilitation services for prisoners; and if he will make a statement. (900498)

May I begin by praising the work of my predecessor to improve the rehabilitation of offenders? Thanks to his reforming zeal, we have broadened the range of people providing and benefiting from rehabilitation, but there is still much more to do.

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply and for the great work to support the rehabilitation of offenders to give them a second chance. Will he assure me that that rehabilitation will never be appropriate in cases such as the brutal murder of Telford teenager Georgia Williams?

Absolutely. May I emphasise that, with heinous crimes such as the appalling murder of Georgia Williams, judges have the freedom to impose whole-life orders? One was imposed on the killer in that terrible case.

Clean Sheet and Footprints are two charities in Dorset supporting ex-offenders into work and reducing the risk of reoffending. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to support such charities and to ensure that offenders leave prison ready to face the world of work?

I commend my hon. Friend for raising the work of those two voluntary sector organisations. Without the work of voluntary and third sector organisations, we would not be able to provide the educational and rehabilitative services that enable people who are currently in our prisons to have a second chance.

It is not just voluntary services that have a role to play, but private businesses such as Marks & Spencer, and indeed other well known department stores. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should encourage private enterprise to help in the rehabilitation of offenders to get them back to work?

I absolutely agree—that is a very good point. May I single out for praise the John Lewis Partnership, which does such a fantastic job in helping people from a variety of backgrounds to be all they can be? I stress that there are other organisations, such as Greggs the bakers and, of course, Timpson, the shoe and key repair firm. John Timpson’s leadership in providing ex-offenders with a second chance is exemplary.

Given that 12% of the prison population are sex offenders, including many in the prison in Stafford, what specific rehabilitation work is being done for sex offenders?

The excellent work that is done in Stafford prison is close to my hon. Friend’s heart, and he is absolutely right. We need to make use of the most sophisticated means that psychologists can devise to help people to tackle the problems that led them to offend. I had the opportunity earlier this week to talk to the psychologist in charge of that work at the National Offender Management Service, and to guarantee her all support in the weeks and months ahead in dealing with those terrible crimes.

23. Lord Laming is inquiring into looked-after children and the criminal justice system. As well as rehabilitation, what is the Justice Secretary doing to help youngsters who have been in care to avoid a life in crime? (900509)

I welcome Herbert Laming’s work. He has been an inspirational figure in social work. He is right to draw attention to the high number of male and particularly female offenders in our jails who spent their lives in care. Working with the Education Secretary and the Minister for Children and Families, who has responsibility for children in care, I hope we can work on the reforms of the coalition Government to ensure that more children in dysfunctional homes can be adopted and fostered quickly, and that there are better educational outcomes for children who have to spend their lives in care.

Does the Secretary of State agree that central to reducing crime rates overall is reducing the rate of reoffending? Does he therefore also agree that to cut rehabilitative services, and funding for them, ultimately would be counter- productive in the long term?

The hon. Gentleman is a distinguished barrister and historian and is absolutely right, because the historical record shows that, overall as a country, we have been very poor at reducing the rate of recidivism. We need to ensure that, both in our prisons and afterwards, we have high-quality services provided by professionals who know how to change the behaviour of individuals who deserve a second chance.

I congratulate the Lord Chancellor on his recent appointment. He looked very impressive in his new robes, if I may say so.

Thirty-five per cent. of prisoners have a drug addiction and 6% acquire that addiction while in prison. What specific help is being given to those with a drug addiction when they come out of prison?

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his re-election as Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee. He did an exemplary job in the previous Parliament and I know he will do a very good job in this Parliament. May I also thank him for his kind words about my dress sense? When it comes to cutting a sartorial dash, there are few who can match him.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that drug addiction is one of the principal factors that lead individuals to commit crime. It is also the case that there is an unacceptable level of drug use, both of illegal drugs and so-called legal highs, in our prisons. We are determined to ensure that the psychological support currently available in prison, and the support rehabilitation companies can provide for individuals who are drug-addicted, is enhanced so that individuals can be weaned off a habit that brings misery to themselves and to their victims.

Does the Secretary of State agree that an important part of rehabilitation is the nature of the custodial arrangements we make for our prisoners? He will have seen yesterday’s announcement by the Scottish Government on their plans to reform the custodial arrangements for female offenders in Scotland. Will he commit to considering a similar approach as he reforms the prison estate in England and Wales?

Both our jurisdictions have a great deal to learn from one another. I am very grateful to the hon. and learned Lady for mentioning that, and for the very constructive tone she took in last week’s Westminster Hall debate on these issues. I hope to have the chance to visit prisons in Scotland soon and to talk to the Scottish Justice Minister about some of these issues.