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Reducing Reoffending

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 14 September 2021

10. What steps he is taking to help ensure effective collaboration between his Department and the Home Office on reducing reoffending. (903415)

The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office are working in close collaboration to beat crime and reduce fear of reoffending. I am the personification of that collaboration. The refreshed integrated offender management strategy is an example of that collaboration, improving working between probation and local police, meaning we can more easily identify persistent offenders in any particular area and take action to stop them from committing neighbourhood crime.

I thank my hon. Friend for being the personification of collaboration between the police and the Department. Will he join me in thanking and congratulating my local police forces in Runnymede and Weybridge on the incredible preventive work they have done around offending? Does he agree with me that prevention is better than cure, and could he lay out some of the work they are doing in terms of pre-offending, not just reoffending?

My hon. Friend is quite right to point out that prevention is better than cure. One emphasis I have tried to bring to my mission as a joint Minister between the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice is that we should shift away from enforcement towards prevention as much as we possibly can. For example, he will know that we funded a series of violence reduction units across the country, working with young people well ahead of them moving towards offending or being involved in crime to make sure that they do not. We are also looking at innovative ways to deal with offenders leaving the secure estate to prevent them from offending, such as GPS tags. We are now currently tagging 100% of acquisitive criminals who leave prison in six police forces, soon to be expanded to a further 13, which is proving to be an enormous deterrent to their continuing offending, and is getting them back on to the straight and narrow.

My constituent had a successful career until addiction took control and she ended up in prison for crimes related to her addiction. She is out of prison, she is not reoffending and she is clean. She is getting her life back. Last year, however, she was raped. The rapist has been convicted, but she has been told that she is not entitled to criminal injury compensation because she has a prior conviction. Is that fair?

I am not aware of the specifics of that particular case. I am happy to meet or correspond with the hon. Lady if she wishes, but it is the case that people who have been convicted of a prior criminal offence are not entitled to compensation through the criminal injuries compensation scheme.

My hon. Friend will be aware that one of the best ways to reduce reoffending is education and work. When I speak to people in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, one of the things they want to see from people who are currently in prison who may be looking to leave is them not only gaining level 3 and level 4 qualifications, but getting out and working and earning money, whether that be through picking fruit and veg, or digging up roads. Can we see how that can be done through the Ministry of Justice?

My hon. Friend, in his usual forthright way, is quite right and cuts to the heart of the issue. We believe there is a simple formula for success after prison: giving people a job, a house and friend. If we think about it, those three pillars are the foundation of success for most of our lives and so it should be for prisoners, too.

Many people who reoffend are involved in substance misuse and, as a result of that, have a criminal conviction. If a public health approach is taken, that not only diverts people away from crime but gives people a new opportunity for a future. North Yorkshire police are working very hard on diversion. What is the Minister doing across Departments to make sure that a public health approach is taken?

The hon. Lady will recall that we were successful at the last spending round in securing, I think, £85 million to make sure that every single person who left the secure estate with a drug addiction was able to access treatment to help them back on to the straight and narrow. It is worth remembering what a public health approach means. Although there are therapeutic and often medical treatments and services that should be offered to offenders to help them with regard to their offending, at the same time we have to bear in mind that enforcement counts, too. Making sure that we treat them with rigour and discipline and that there is consequence for their non-compliance with the conditions that we put on them post-release from prison is critical to getting the psychology right. We are seeing this, for example, with our GPS tagging. In particular, when we expand the use of sobriety tags to those prisoners who are leaving the secure estate who have had an alcohol problem before, we hope to see that writ large.