Skip to main content

Custodial and Community Sentencing

Volume 750: debated on Tuesday 14 May 2024

9. If he will make a comparative assessment of the effectiveness of short custodial sentences and sentences served in the community. (902795)

Ministry of Justice reoffending statistics show that those serving a sentence of six months or less have a 59% reoffending rate. For offenders punished with suspended sentences or community orders, the reoffending rate is 24%. The Department’s 2019 analysis of a matched cohort of over 30,000 offenders showed lower reoffending rates for those serving sentences in the community when compared with immediate custody of less than 12 months, avoiding tens of thousands of potential crimes.

I agree with the Bishop of Gloucester that community payback schemes are often far more appropriate than short-term custodial sentences, particularly for women prisoners. If my hon. Friend agrees with that, does he also agree that we could expand the range of community payback activity to include, for example, helping at good local charities such as the Nelson Trust and the Family Haven, and, especially during this summer season of litter picking across the country, keeping Britain tidy?

I thank my hon. Friend for that sensible question. I agree that community payback offers offenders an opportunity to make visible reparations to their local communities, with millions of hours being delivered each year. As an example, this March, for the great British spring clean, offenders spent thousands of hours clearing litter across the country. We are trialling a new way to deliver community payback through the rapid deployment pilot, which was launched last year. Community payback teams are working in partnership with local authorities to see incidents cleaned up within 48 hours’ notice, and we are now expanding that to all 12 probation regions.

Restorative justice in Northern Ireland has been an effective method of ensuring that victims and perpetrators can at least come together and perhaps try to find a solution. It is also a way of ensuring lesser sentences. Has the Minister been able to look at the community restorative justice that we have done in Northern Ireland to ensure that those on the mainland who offend can have a new life as well?

I personally have not, but I gather that Minister of Justice officials are abreast of that. I would like to meet the hon. Gentleman to hear more about that from him personally.