Suffolk: How can we break the vicious circle of reoffending?

Prison-cell

- Credit: PA

Nearly a third of 5,800 criminals sentenced in Suffolk courts over a 12-month period had 10 or more previous convictions, it has been revealed.

Government figures show that between October 1, 2012, and September 30 last year 1,885 offenders had already been convicted at least 10 times. Of those, 178 had 50 or more convictions, with 135 having between 40 and 49.

Politicians and police said the statistics illustrate the need for a different approach in the rehabilitation of people entrenched in a cycle of perpetual offending.

However, Jonathan Robinson a former Hollesley Bay prisoner who now campaigns for reform and re-education within jails is adamant that to make a genuine difference rehabilitation must begin while offenders are behind bars.

Mr Robinson, who served time for theft, has just published his second book entitled On It which details his efforts for prison reform. It follows In It which gave a snapshot of life inside Hollesley Bay.


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Mr Robinson said: “I could have spent my time inside teaching people to read, but I was stopped from doing it by the system and ended up sunbathing. There are rescueable people here, but we are not doing anything with them. It’s madness.

“I’m not suggesting they can all be saved, but I have yet to find any of the ‘suits’ (authorities) disagree with me. What the Government says is rhetoric, but no one seems to have the guts to grasp this.”

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Many prolific offenders are seen as vulnerable with drink or drug problems and issues over permanent accommodation. They are primarily responsible for such as theft, begging, criminal damage, and threatening behaviour.

The authorities acknowledge enforcement only perpetuates a revolving door process of offending, arrest, charging, court and sentencing. They accept new approaches are required to get the root of individuals’ problems and to get them to change their lives.

Richard Jones, a Suffolk Constabulary spokesman, said: “A variety of agencies work to try to reduce re-offending, including the prison and probation services and police in partnership with local councils and community organisations.

“The management of prolific offenders is an area of our work which we approach on a multi-agency basis, under Integrated Offender Management.

“Sadly a small number of individuals tend to be responsible for a large amount of offences, and do return to their criminal behaviour despite the assistance offered, so we continue to focus our work on breaking the cycle of offending.”

Justice Minister Chris Grayling said offenders released from short sentences receive little, if any, support under the current structure.

Mr Grayling added: “The need to reform rehabilitation is abundantly clear.

“For too long we have released these prisoners back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets and little else in the hope they would sort themselves out. It is little wonder things haven’t improved.”

To get a copy of Mr Robinson’s new book log on to www.amazon.co.uk/ON-IT-Jonathan-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00J8PPLVG

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