‘Radical’ rehabilitation reform needed as private contracts to end early
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) wants to be part of “radically reforming” offender rehabilitation after privately run probation contracts were cut prematurely short.
Tim Passmore backed overhauling the payment-by-results system that gave Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) supervision of low and medium-risk offenders in 2015.
Last week, the Government announced 21 existing contracts – awarded as the state-run National Probation Service (NPS) began supervising high-risk offenders – would end two years early, in 2020.
It followed estimated CRC and NPS results for July-September 2017 compared to quarterly cohorts since October 2015.
According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Norfolk and Suffolk CRC cut reoffending from 42.1% in 2015 to 31.61% by September 2017, while the South East and Eastern NPS rate fell from 33.14%-22.18%.
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But in the meantime, the rate fell no lower than 41.95% under the CRC and 29.48% under the NPS – with repeat offenders going on to commit no less than an average of 4.75 crimes under the CRC and 4.08 under the NPS.
Unforeseen changes in types of offenders and sentences had reduced CRC income and affected frontline services, said the MOJ, which announced arrangements would be replaced by 10 new contracts, with CRCs allowed to reinvest £110m in fines for missed targets in the next two years.
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CRC and NPS areas will align in an effort to strengthen ties with charities, councils and PCCs.
Mr Passmore, who supports radically reviewing the system, said: “As a tolerant society, we must do more for the significant numbers whose lives could be turned around, but were not afforded opportunities when younger, lack education or have problems with mental health. They can’t just leave prison with no prospect of a job or home.
“We need to learn lessons from what went right and wrong, and develop a system for everyone’s benefit.”
A consultation will now gather views from potential providers and inform future service delivery.
A spokesman for CRC operator Sodexo said it was committed to retaining operations and looking to expand areas it believes can positively affect offenders’ lives, adding: “We have been working closely with the Government to ensure offenders in our care are supported as fully as possible in their rehabilitation.”