Reoffending rates: More to be done, say MPs

Prisoner behind bars The report calls for better integration of prison and probation services

The Ministry of Justice must do more to stop reoffending in England and Wales including giving probation more importance, MPs have said in a report.

The Commons Justice Committee said the ministry, and specifically the National Offender Management Service, focused too much on jails to deliver justice.

But it said the ministry had improved on previous "woeful" inefficiency.

The government said it would publish its response to a consultation on the probation service later this year.

The Ministry of Justice was created five years ago when the Home Office was in crisis and took on some of its functions as well as those of the old Department of Constitutional Affairs.

The report said that, despite teething troubles, there had been improvements under the new set-up.

But it said the department was too "in thrall" to prisons and called for probation to be given the same status by the National Offender Management Service.

PROPORTION OF ALL OFFENDERS WITH 15 OR MORE CONVICTIONS

  • 2001: 29% of offenders
  • 2006: 38% of offenders
  • 2009: 40% of offenders
  • 2011: 44% of offenders

Source: Ministry of Justice

If the two were better integrated, costs and reoffending would be cut, the committee added.

And it said other departments should focus policies on stopping offenders returning to prison.

In 2011, a record number of offenders sentenced for serious crimes had committed previous offences.

Some 90% of those sentenced in England and Wales had offended before - and almost a third had committed or were linked to 15 or more crimes.

Reoffending rates were highest among serious offenders who had been jailed.

Last month, a report by prisons and probation inspectors for England and Wales found that serious criminals were leaving prison without having been on programmes designed to stop reoffending.

It found no plans to deliver treatment programmes to a third of sex offenders needing them with most of the 11 prisons examined lacking capacity to meet demand for courses.

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