The Justice Committee has published a scathing report on the Governments approach to the short and medium term funding of prisons.
‘The Government’s current approach to prison funding to accommodate growing population forecasts is inefficient, ineffective, and unsustainable in the medium or
At a time when it appears that more people are being given suspended sentences, this latest report will go little way to re-assuring the general public and members of the NHS services that, if they are the victim of an unprovoked and violent attack, that their perpetrator will end up spending any time in prison.
A spokesperson for the Justice Committee said:
‘Reporting on a wide-ranging 18-month inquiry, the Committee agrees with Justice Secretary David Gauke that there is a very strong case for abolishing sentences of six months or less altogether.
‘Re-offending costs an estimated £15 billion a year; the report recommends that there must be a focus on investing services to reduce this, thus cutting crime and reducing the overall size of the prison population – which is increased through repeat imprisonment.
‘Over the past 25 years, the prison population for England and Wales has almost doubled in size – from 44,246 in 1993 to 82,384 in December 2018.
‘Capacity has not kept pace with demand and many prisons are now overcrowded.
‘The inquiry heard how staffing shortages and other disruptions have severely undermined the delivery of rehabilitative services in prisons, including education, mental health treatment, substance misuse treatment and offending behaviour programmes.
The Committee concluded that this creates immeasurable wasted costs.
‘The nature of the prison population is rapidly changing: a higher proportion of offenders are in prison for serious violent or sexual offences’ it said
‘The average age is rising and many prisoners have mental health problems. All these factors and others make the current cohort of prisoners extremely challenging.’
Whilst there have been calls from people serving within the emergency services and NHS for individuals who attack staff to
The report argues that the Government’s focus on addressing safety and decency in prisons has come at the expense of rehabilitation.
The Justice Committee concluded that the Ministry of Justice needs to ‘refocus its efforts to enable a dual approach to maintain both safety and decency, as well as improve rehabilitation’.
Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:
“The Ministry of Justice and Treasury are guilty of a crisis management approach to prisons that has been failing for the past five years. Throwing money at the prison system to tackle multiple issues takes funding away from external rehabilitative programmes that could stem or reverse many of the problems.
“Proper investment in rehabilitation services would really work. Better access to support and opportunities for offenders would reduce repeat imprisonment, save money, and start to alleviate pressures on jails.
“Poor access to rehabilitation while in prison creates boredom and frustration, with a cyclical impact on the degradation of regimes and safety.
“We need a serious open public debate about the criminal justice system, the role of prison and its affordability.
“We are pleased that the Justice Secretary and Prisons Minister have acknowledged this but regardless of the political
“There must be greater transparency so that everyone can understand the true costs and challenging nature of decisions which need to be made about public spending on prisons and other aspects of criminal justice.
“This should form the first step of the Justice Secretary’s ‘National
“These issues cannot be hidden behind the prison gates any longer.”
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