The Chair of the Justice Committee says the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme is woefully inadequateby Bob Neill / June 29, 2018 / Leave a comment
Although still not a universally accepted view, there is a growing realisation that failures to invest properly in the criminal justice system create a false economy which chains many offenders, a majority of whom are incredibly vulnerable individuals with a troubled past, to a life of crime and recidivism.
Other than those who commit the most serious of offences, they will all, one day, be released. It therefore makes sense to do everything we can to help ensure each and every one is able to reintegrate into society, find a job, get a home, and push on with forging a second chance for themselves.
That is a cause the public is beginning to get behind, which is what makes the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, on which the Justice Committee recently concluded a comprehensive, eight month inquiry, so disappointing. It is a missed opportunity, and in many ways, a huge own goal.
This package of major structural reforms, brought in during 2014 and 2015, had some very noble aims. By introducing changes to the probation system, it sought to extend the usual statutory package of rehabilitation to offenders serving custodial sentences of less than 12 months; deliver better value for money for the taxpayer by opening up the market to new rehabilitation providers, playing on the different strengths of the public, voluntary and private sectors; and ultimately, reduce reoffending rates, which have remained stubbornly high for consecutive years. All good so far.
But the way these reforms were planned, implemented and managed long-term, as well as the results they have delivered since, has, by any measure, left a lot to be desired. To start, any due diligence was immediately negated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proceeding with the full introduction of the reforms before its two pilots, at HMP Doncaster and HMP Peterborough, had come to an end. What’s worse, analysis published by the National Audit Office has found that the trials were already showing signs that the reforms would not have their desired effect by the time of their conclusion. In other words, the ministry should have proceeded with caution, but didn’t.
In part, the failures that have followed since have been due to an ill thought through strategy from the start. Under the reforms, offenders are split, according to…