Commissioner supports more control of prisoner supervision and reform
Suffolk’s crime commissioner has backed calls for broader powers to oversee supervision and reform of offenders.
Last month, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chairman David Lloyd made a case for more accountability of local justice services, including offender management services.
He said the ‘payment by results’ system for community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) had diminished the use of the voluntary and community sector.
Suffolk’s commissioner Tim Passmore supported calls for joint oversight of CRCs and the probation service with the Ministry of Justice, agreeing it was within the mandate of PCCs to hold the system to account.
“It’s a role I’d welcome the opportunity to develop,” he said.
“One of my premium functions is to ensure crime is reduced and people are kept safe.
“Among challenges we face in society is reducing re-offending.”
Mr Passmore said he was astonished by the parole board’s decision to approve the release of John Worboys, who was jailed for at least eight years in 2009 for 19 serious sex offences on 12 victims, but is believed to have carried out more than 100 assaults in London.
“If people lose confidence in the system, we have a serious issue,” he said. “I think people would agree that PCCs brought more transparency to the police force.
“It’s important to have as much transparency in administration of justice and to make better use of exchanging data.”
Mr Passmore’s role on the Criminal Justice Board already allows him to comment on sentences and recommend amendments.
It would require central funding without ring fence for PCCs to invest in reducing re-offending.
Mr Passmore said: “CRCs and the probation service need to engage more with the public and other parts of the criminal justice system.
“Of course, it needs to be properly resourced, but pooling resources can be effective.
“I’ve been in touch with prisons and know there is a willingness to look at projects aimed at working together to get people in work.
“Each prison place costs the taxpayer £40,000 a year and re-offending rates are high.
“I suggest we need a change. We need to address drugs, mental health difficulties and the fact that a quarter of prisoners were in care as children.”