Prisons in Parliament

Time to Rethink Rehabilitation

Reform: Libby Levi (flickr)

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here. 

Young people in prison

Moved by Lord Harris: This House takes note of the case for taking action to address the problems of young people before they enter the criminal justice system in order to reduce the prison population, improve conditions within prison, and focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners.

“Prison is a hugely expensive intervention and yet the benefits of this spend are questionable. It has a relatively low impact on crime, and indeed rates of reoffending are high, particularly among young adults.”

In context

Published in July this year, the Harris review looked broadly at why so many young people die in custody.The purpose of the review was to make recommendations to reduce the risk of future self-inflicted deaths.

In Parliament this week

Lord Harris called for better training of prison staff and a shift from punishment to rehabilitation in prison.

Lord Dholakia called for a co-ordinated strategy from central government:

Everything humanly possible will be done to avoid the tragic and all-too-often avoidable deaths of so many vulnerable young people in custody. Any nation that aspires to civilised values must surely treat this as an overriding moral priority.

Read the full debate here.



Transforming Rehabilitation

Moved by Steven Kinnock: that this House has considered implementation of the transforming rehabilitation programme.

“what matters is what works. It is crystal clear to all concerned that the transforming rehabilitation programme conceived by the coalition Government is simply not working… We call on the Minister to listen to the experts and fix this broken system before it is too late.

In context

The Transforming Rehabilitation act came in last year under Chris Graying. The move replaced the previous 35 probation trusts with a National Probation Service and 21 ‘Community Rehabilitation Companies’ (CRCs).

  • The CRC’s are private providers that supervise low and mediumrisk offenders, about 70 per cent of the service.
  • Offenders who pose a high risk of serious harm to the public, or who have been convicted of the most serious offences, are still being managed in the public sector under the National Probation Service
  • There are eight providers, Sodexo is the biggest.

The act has been criticised for:

  • The speed it was brought in, which left no time for piloting.
  • The 10 year contracts with the CRCs, including a “poison pill” of £300 million should the contracts be cancelled, make the reforms extremely difficult to revise.
  • A lack of transparency, as the CRCs are not subject to Freedom of Information laws.
  • An increase of bureaucracy and difficulties sharing information between the now fragmented prison, probation and rehabilitation services.

In Parliament this week 

Andrew Selous defended the reforms saying that such services could not have been provided without private sector finance, adding that the purpose of the reforms was to:

“Better to focus the system on reducing reoffending, protecting the public and providing greater value for the taxpayer”

Jenny Chapman argued the reforms had failed and called for immediate intervention:

The system we have is simply chaotic. We knew things would take time, but it is dangerous to let too much time to go by without intervening. The plans were poorly conceived, and they have been irresponsibly executed.

Read the full debate here.


One Comment on “Prisons in Parliament”

  1. Barry Mizen says:

    Whilst I agree with what’s being said here, we must still be mindful of the language used . Otherwise the impression given is that the rehabilitation of offenders is all that matters. Come what may, and yes there will be reasons why some people do what they do, there are still victims of crime. Their rehabilitation must also be of importance. If we want to change our whole perspective of how we treat people who commit crime, then we must make sure we consider all the people effected.


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