Reoffending rates are too high, resulting in some individuals repeatedly posing a danger to their communities and the undermining of public confidence in the criminal justice system. Last week, we published the sentencing White Paper, which sets out measures to better supervise and support offenders following their release from custody. It includes proposals for changes to the rehabilitation periods set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, to improve access to employment and education for those with criminal records.
I recently visited MTCnovo’s hub for offenders from Aylesbury and was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the staff, as well as of those completing their sentences there. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that a vital element of reducing reoffending is having enough well-trained and skilled probation officers who can thoroughly oversee and supervise sentences?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I thank all the staff at MTCnovo and Thames Valley community rehabilitation company. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that dedicated prison officers are a key part of reducing reoffending, which is why last month we launched the probation workforce strategy, setting out our commitment to recruit an additional 1,000 probation officers by the end of January next year. It is about not just recruiting staff but how we work with them and invest in their skills. We will be focusing on their skills, recruitment, retention, diversity, leadership and wellbeing.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s question on innovation. Our sentencing White Paper sets out a number of innovative ways of reducing reoffending, and I will mention just two. First, my hon. Friend mentioned prolific offenders, and we would like to deal with prolific burglars by tagging them so that when we release them from prison, we know where they go and prevent them from committing further acquisitive crime. Secondly, we want to help people turn their lives around through community treatment programmes, ensuring that offenders get the support—including the drug addiction treatment and mental health support—they need to enable them to turn their backs on crime.