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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

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

Small but very significant improvements have been made in reducing reoffending by adults and young people in recent years, but a debate is needed on the price of public protection, said Andrew Bridges, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing his annual report.

Inspections found that public protection work by Probation Trusts and Youth Offending Teams has been improving. However, the very high cost of keeping record numbers of offenders in prison should be measured against the relatively marginal benefits achieved, and we should consider the merits of managing more prisoners in the community, said Bridges.

 The annual report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) website. HMIP is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with offenders, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public.

Over the past year, HM Inspectorate of Probation has continued its practice of focusing priority attention to public safety work, measuring how often public protection work is carried out to a sufficiently high level of quality. Risk of harm cannot be eliminated completely, but the public expects the authorities to do their jobs properly . this means taking all reasonable action to keep to a minimum each offender's risk of harm to the public.

In a busy year for the Inspectorate, 2009 saw the start of the new Inspection of Youth Offending Programme in April, covering key aspects of the work of all 157 Youth Offending Teams over a three-year period. In September 2009, the new adult Offender Management Programme began, in which all NOMS Probation Trusts will be visited over a three-year period.

Joint thematic inspections included the publication of reports on Prolific and Priority Offenders, Offenders with Mental Disorders and, with HMI Prisons, Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection. In November 2009, the results of the special case inspections in London were published, undertaken following concerns arising from the Sonnex case.

Despite the difficulties in measuring reoffending, and in isolating what makes it more or less likely to happen, the Chief Inspector is inviting consideration of some of the numbers involved:

  • the end of custody licence scheme saw 80,000 relatively 'low seriousness' prisoners released up to 18 days early from their sentences from June 2007 to March 2010. In each year during this scheme, around 30,000 prisoners were released about a fortnight early, with about 500 of them committing a total of around 600 further offences during that period. The cost of keeping 30,000 people in custody for around a fortnight is £48m, giving a figure of around £80,000 to prevent each offence for just over a fortnight. Or, we are locking up 59 people who may not need to be locked up in order to lock up one who is going to offend again in that very short period.

  • many prisoners serving the more serious sentences for public protection are being kept in custody past their tariff date, with around 2,500 thus currently locked up as a form of preventive detention, costing in the region of £80m a year. If these people were at liberty, they might commit as many as 40 serious crimes a year . thought probably fewer - giving a figure of around £2m or more per year to prevent each individual further serious crime. Again, this means at least 59 offenders are being locked up for a whole year to prevent one such crime.

Andrew Bridges commented:

"The encouraging news is that overall, Probation Trusts and Youth Offending teams are improving the quality of their public protection work. They cannot eliminate risk of harm to the public completely, but they should do all they reasonably can to keep that risk to a minimum. More widely, the country as a whole has seen a small but identifiable decrease in reoffending at both adult and youth level in recent years, and Probation and Youth Offending have both contributed to that.
"However, it would be timely to reflect on the public's expectations of this work, and the price we are all collectively prepared to pay for it. Do we want to keep around 60 people in custody to prevent just one from reoffending? Or is the public prepared to accept the .cost. of having more prisoners managed in the community to achieve what could be substantial financial savings? Grown-up choices need to be made."