Ministry of Justice
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Time to break the cycle of crime and reoffending

A radical reform of the criminal justice system to punish criminals more effectively and reduce reoffending was announced today by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke.

The green paper on sentencing and rehabilitation sets out plans to break the destructive cycle of crime and prison by ensuring that jails become places of hard work, that rehabilitation programmes are opened up to innovation from the private and charitable sectors, paid by results, and that the priority will now be to reduce the reoffending by people after they have been punished.

The safety and security of the law-abiding citizen is the priority of the programme of reforms. Prison will continue to be the right place for serious offenders, with a renewed focus on rehabilitation after criminals have served their punishments, in order to stop the reoffending that blights the lives of individuals and communities. Despite a 50% increase in the budget for prisons and managing offenders in the last ten years, around half of adult offenders reoffend within a year of being released from prison.

There will also be new measures to force criminals to make amends to victims and communities for the harm they have caused.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said:

'Despite record spending we are not delivering what really matters. Society has a right to expect the criminal justice system will protect them. Prison will always be the place for serious and dangerous offenders.

'Prisons should also be places of hard work and industry and community sentences must be credible and robust. Criminals must also be reformed so that when they finish their sentences they do not simply return to crime, creating more misery for victims.

'We cannot let this continue. Solving these problems requires a radically different approach.'

The proposals in the green paper 'Breaking the cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders' include:

  • making offenders work hard through the discipline of regular working hours in prison, more demanding tasks in the community, and greater use of tough curfew requirements
  • increasing reparation to victims through greater use of restorative justice, implementing the Prisoners’ Earnings Act and other reforms to make offenders directly compensate victims of crime
  • rehabilitating offenders by getting them off drugs and benefits and into honest work
  • introducing payment-by-results so that independent providers will be rewarded for reducing reoffending – this will be paid for by the savings that this will generate within the criminal justice system
  • simplifying the sentencing framework to make it more comprehensible to the public, enhancing judicial discretion and reforming the indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP)
  • improving youth justice to prevent and tackle offending by young people and stop them becoming the career criminals of tomorrow
  • working with communities to reduce crime, with local people playing a more central role in criminal justice – moving the focus from the centre to local areas; creating more opportunities for other providers to deliver services and increasing transparency so that local communities are better able to hold services to account.

Kenneth Clarke added:

'The green paper is an important change of direction in penal policy which will put more emphasis on reducing reoffending without reducing the punishment of offenders.

'By reforming criminals and turning them away from a life of crime we will break the cycle. This will mean fewer crimes, fewer victims and safer communities.'

Today’s plans are the second step in the major reform plans announced by the Ministry of Justice, coming in the wake of a consultation on changes to legal aid and civil litigation last month.

Notes to editors:

  1. See Annex A for press summary of green paper proposals
  2. On 12 May 2010, the Coalition Programme for Government committed to a full review of sentencing and rehabilitation policy.
  3. Consultation on proposals begins today and continue to 4 March 2011. The Government will consult widely with stakeholders, analyse responses and publish a response setting out plans in May 2011.
  4. For further enquiries, please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536

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