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Prisons Strategy White Paper

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 7 December 2021

Today the Government have published our Prisons Strategy White Paper which sets out our plans to build the prison places the country needs, transform the prison regime to protect the public, and to drive down reoffending and cut crime. The White Paper sets out our plans to deliver on this.

The White Paper sets out our ambitious plans to:

Deliver the biggest prison building programme in more than 100 years, with almost £4 billion to create up to 20,000 additional prison places to help us to meet demand as tougher sentencing rules come in and the courts clear backlogs.

Support a zero-tolerance approach to weapons, drugs and contraband in prisons, disrupting criminal activity from within the prison walls and, crucially, ensuring good order and discipline in our estate so that staff and prisoners are safe and can focus on the purposeful activity which reduces reoffending.

Use the prison system to get more prisoners off drugs, by improving drug testing and delivering access to a full range of drug and mental health treatment, including abstinence-based drug treatment options, with stronger continuity of drug treatment on release.

Introduce an improved prisoner education service, which ensures prisoners have access to a range of services to improve skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and acquire qualifications, and is focused on opening up employment opportunities for prisoners on release.

Transform the opportunities for work in prisons and on release on temporary license (ROTL) to increase job prospects for prison leavers, by holding governors to account for the job opportunities and outcomes they achieve for prisoners.

Provide the basics that offenders need to live crime-free lives (such as a CV, setting out the qualifications, skills and work experience gained in custody, ID and conditions of release) through a system of “passports” to better aid resettlement and investing £200 million a year by 2024-25 to transform our approach to rehabilitation.

Empower governors to innovate locally, while still operating with and being assessed against clear outcome measures that align with the Government’s priorities.

Use clear, public and transparent prison performance statistics with published key performance indicators (KPIs) for prisons and league tables to compare performance and spread best practice, ensuring success is measured against our priorities: security and stability; substance misuse and mental health; and resettlement and family ties.

Recruit an extra 5,000 prison officers and upskill our existing staff by enhancing training, supervision, and qualifications; as well as making sure we hire the next generation of governors through an HMPPS fast-track scheme.

Modernise our prisons with digital infrastructure so that prisoners have autonomy over their in-prison affairs, and staff have a reduced bureaucratic burden, enabling them to work more efficiently.

The full package of proposals will help us bring down rates of reoffending, which cost our economy over £18 billion per year, beat crime and build back better—to make our communities safer, and level up opportunities across the country. This White Paper sets out what we will deliver over the next two years as well as our longer-term 10-year vision. The White Paper can be found at: