From education to employment

Radical prison reforms to incentivise reducing reoffenders

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to introduce “radical reforms” to stem the growing prison population.

It is expected that the number of people in prison will reach over 90,000 this year, after doubling in a generation. Approximately 76 per cent of those sent into custody reoffend.

Mr Clarke believes sending people to prison for the sake of it is a waste of public funds.

In his first major speech since taking office, he said: “We want a far more constructive approach. This means prisons that are places of punishment of course, but also of education, hard work and change.

“It means rigorously enforced community sentences that punish offenders, but also get them off drugs and alcohol abuse and into employment.

“The voluntary and private sectors will be crucial to our success. We want to make far better use of their enthusiasm and expertise to get offenders away from the revolving door of crime and prison.

He added that the most radical part of the new approach would involve paying independent organisations by results in reducing reoffending.

Jen Byrne, justice director of A4e, the public service delivery company that works in a range of sectors, including rehabilitation and reoffending , welcomed the move to fully utilise private and third sectors in delivering programmes to reduce reoffending.

A4e works with a number prisons, including HMPYOI Portland, where reoffending rates have dropped from 47 per cent to 14 per cent.

“Our experience in both the rehabilitation field and other sectors, delivering region wide projects at large scale, shows what can be achieved with a results based approach and one that is tailored to the needs of the individual offenders,” said Ms Byrne.??Lynne Sedgmore, chief executive of 157 group, which represents 28 of the most influential colleges in the FE sector, said: “FE Colleges have provided valuable education in prisons for many years as part of offender rehabilitation.

“We have long argued for flexible and transferable education and qualifications for offenders and would be keen to offer new forms of flexible education and skills training to meet Ken Clarke’s new proposals.

Jason Rainbow

(Pictured: Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke)

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