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Management of Offenders: Local Authorities and PCCs

Volume 661: debated on Tuesday 4 June 2019

9. What steps his Department is taking to work with (a) local authorities and (b) Police and Crime Commissioners in the management of offenders. (911114)

10. What steps his Department is taking to work with (a) local authorities and (b) Police and Crime Commissioners in the management of offenders. (911115)

We want to strengthen partnership working between probation and local partners, including local authorities and police and crime commissioners, and the future probation model announced on 16 May will better enable this with a new regional structure led by regional directors responsible for the delivery and commissioning of probation services. They will work with local partners to identify shared priorities and co-commission services that will better support the management of offenders in the community.

Will the Secretary of State commit to exploring co-commissioning so that probation can leverage in wider funding and serve common needs?

The short answer is yes. Our plan is to create a dynamic framework for the commissioning of resettlement and rehabilitative intervention opportunities. To complement this, we will ring-fence £20 million a year in an innovation fund to attract match funding from other Departments and commissioning bodies for innovative cross-cutting approaches.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the transforming rehabilitation reforms had the very sensible goal of reducing reoffending by extending supervision to a group of offenders who previously did not have it?

Yes, I do think that is a very sensible goal, and sometimes that point has been missed in the debate about the transforming rehabilitation programme. My view is that we need to build on those reforms, and that is why on 16 May I outlined the changes we were making. My hon. Friend is right that we need to be ambitious and provide coverage for as many ex-offenders as possible.

I am not sure whether the Secretary of State has had a chance yet to see the report published this morning by Crest Advisory on the management of women offenders. It suggests that police and crime commissioners should develop gender-informed alternatives to cautions and thereby keep women out of the criminal justice system. Will he consider that recommendation and the others in the report, and would he or one of his ministerial colleagues be willing to meet me and representatives of Crest to discuss it?

I confess I have not had an opportunity yet to read the report published this morning, but from what the hon. Lady says it appears to go in a similar direction to the female offenders strategy I set out last year. I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), would be delighted to meet her to discuss the matter further.

I also congratulate the new Ministers on their appointment.

Short sentences target the most vulnerable offenders, especially women, with 75% of all women offenders sentenced to less than a year going on to reoffend. Has the Secretary of State made an assessment of the impact of short prison sentences on offenders and communities?

Indeed I am concerned about the impact of short sentences, not just on those who receive them but on society as a whole, because if they are ineffective in reducing reoffending, we are not doing society a favour and we are not reducing crime in the way we want to. As I said a moment ago, we set out our approach in the female offenders strategy—there is a case for looking at alternatives to custody for less serious offences. As a whole, I am ambitious to reduce the use of short sentences, which I do not see as being effective in reducing crime.