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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

May 25, 2005: Number of Offenders Recalled to Prison Trebles

The number of offenders being recalled to prison after being released on licence in the community has more than trebled in the last five years, according to 'Recycling Offenders Through Prison', a new report from the Prison Reform Trust.

The number is set to increase further. The report indicates that the dramatic rise in people being returned to custody is one of the hidden factors behind the increase in the prison population which once again reached a record level last week. As indicated on Crimlinks home page, the total prison population in England and Wales reached 75,877 on 20th May 2005, the highest figure ever recorded.

'Recycling Offenders Through Prison' indicates that the rise is not due to prisoners who are on licence in the community committing further crimes but is a result of tougher enforcement by the National Probation Service (NPS). There has been a notable change of culture within the NPS in recent years with regard to enforcement. The majority of those who are recalled to prison have failed to comply with licence requirements, such as attending probation appointments.

The numbers being returned to prison is expected to continue rising steeply with the new provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, introduced in April this year, which mean that many prisoners will be released from jail after serving half their sentence and will then remain on licence under supervision in the community for the rest of the sentence.

The report predicts that there will be an increasing number of ex-prisoners being recycled through a revolving prison door pushing up the overall prison population. In 2003-2004 8,103 prisoners were recalled to custody for breach of their licence conditions. Over the last five years the number of recalls has more then trebled from 2,337 in 2000-2001. The rise has happened at a time when the number of prisoners serving sentences which include post custody periods of supervision on licence in the community has increased by less than 15%, and the numbers in the community on licence supervision has remained relatively stable.

'Recycling Offenders Through Prison' highlights a number of problems that recalled prisoners face and challenges for prison staff working with them:

  • Notification and information - Offenders are recalled to prison but left uninformed about the reasons. Basic information is not passed to the prisoner or the prison authorities leaving prisoners frustrated and angry creating problems for prison staff.
  • Legal advice and representation - Delays in transferring information mean that offenders are unable to make prompt representations against the decision to recall them to custody. Prison staff are overstretched and hard pressed to provide appropriate legal advice and support.
  • Induction and well-being - The return to prison is often unsettling and can cause great distress, yet offenders are not going through proper induction procedures. Last year a number of those who were returned to custody took their own lives.
  • Sentence planning - In many prisons recalled prisoners are not subject to sentence planning to enable them to make constructive use of their return to custody. As a result they are simply being warehoused.

The report calls for a review of the national standards for breach of licence conditions so they are less punitive in promoting compliance. It also says that offenders on licence need to be given more support to access services so they can stay out of prison and lead law-abiding lives. It calls for improvements in the transfer of information, access to legal advice and support, induction arrangements and assessment and sentence planning for offenders recalled to custody.

Report author Enver Solomon, said:

'The untold story of the record prison population is the large number of offenders who do not pose a threat to the public but are being dragged back into overcrowded, overstretched jails at great expense to the taxpayer. Prisons exist to protect the public and detain serious, persistent criminals rather than warehouse people who have done their time and need support in the community to rebuild their lives.'

Prison Reform Trust Director Juliet Lyon, said:

'The current system for breach of licence and recall sets people up to fail. Arrangements designed to be tough and fair are too often turning out to be punitive and unjust. The startling rise in the numbers of people returned to jail for missing appointments, or otherwise messing up their license conditions, is expensive and counterproductive. The Home Office could better meet its aim of preventing re-offending by ensuring that people leaving the closed world of prison get sustained support and supervision to help them resettle in the community rather than by expecting them to walk on eggshells.'