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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Prison reforms will only work with investment to tackle reoffending - IPPR

Jonathan Clifton, Associate Director for Public Services at IPPR, said:

“David Cameron is right to try and reform our prisons – which are overflowing, ineffective and dangerous.

“Giving more autonomy and responsibility to prison governors is a welcome move – but it is what happens outside the prison gates that really counts. It is no surprise that the reoffending rate is high when so many prisoners are released straight into homelessness.

“These reforms will only be successful if the government is able to reinvest money from the prison system into community-based services that help to keep offenders out of trouble in the first place”.

Notes to editors:

1. IPPR’s recent report ‘Prisons and prevention’ is available here: http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/prisons-and-prevention_Jan2016.pdf?noredirect=1
2. IPPR have called for the prison budget to be devolved to City Mayors, in a bid to encourage them to reinvest the money in preventative services. This model has been used effectively in the USA. Ohio and New York were able to incentivise local districts and courts to invest in community services and high quality alternatives to custody, dramatically reducing the prison population in the process. In Ohio, the number of young people being incarcerated by the state fell from more than 2,600 in 1992 when the programme was introduced, to less than 510 in 2013.
3. The government introduced a series of reforms to the probation service, including contracting out probation for low-risk offenders to private and third sector providers. While it is too early to assess their impact, early indications are discouraging. For example Wormwood Scrubs HMCIP report reveals: ‘The proportion of prisoners recorded by the prison as having accommodation on discharge had fallen dramatically in recent months, from 95.3% in April 2015 to 59.4% in October 2015’ See: http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/Wormwood-Scrubs-web2015.pdf