Recalls to custody

Commenting on the publication of today’s (25 November) prison population projections by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The latest projection for the prison population will be portrayed by ministers as a policy success, with more criminals brought to justice. But the detail actually contains multiple admissions of failure. The government is recruiting 23,400 police officers but has no idea whether their time is to be spent preventing crime or chasing after it. Action to reduce reoffending is promised but apparently will have no impact. A strategy to reduce the imprisonment of women will fail so completely that the female prison population will grow by over a third. Inadequate support in the community for people on indeterminate sentences will mean that even more are being needlessly recalled to prison. By 2025, around 30% of our prison population will be over 50 years old, when the peak age for offending is people in their late twenties.

“The price of all these failures is an extra 18,000 people in prison by 2025, costing us all an additional £800m every year, not to mention the £4bn already put aside to build the cells to house them. Exactly why, uniquely in western Europe, we need to lock up so many of our fellow citizens, is never explained. It’s a foolish waste of scarce resources, driven by politics, not evidence.”

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There were more than 140,000 admissions into prison in England and Wales in 2017—the highest number in western Europe, according to a new report published today (24 June 2019) by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report Prison: the facts, reveals that, despite the number falling in recent years, England and Wales still have over 40,000 more admissions to prison than Germany, the second-highest—which has a significantly larger national population.

The rate of prison admissions, which accounts for the effects of differences in national populations, shows that England and Wales have a rate approximately three times that of Italy and Spain, and almost twice as high as Germany, with 238 prison admissions for every 100,000 people.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the HM Inspectorate of Probation report on Post-release supervision for short-term prisoners: the work undertaken by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The chief inspector could not be clearer in her assessment of the failure of compulsory post-release supervision for short sentenced prisoners. While the reforms appear to have had no discernible impact on reoffending, recall rates have rocketed, disrupting lives and placing unnecessary pressure on an already overcrowded and overstretched prison system. Since its introduction, recall rates for men have increased by 29%, while for women they have risen by a shocking 166%.

“The justice secretary has signalled his willingness to follow the evidence by bringing offender management back into the public sector. He should now follow the advice of his chief inspector by ending the unfair and disproportionate mandatory supervision of short sentenced prisoners. Delivering on his aim of abolishing short prison sentences altogether would be the best and simplest solution. He also needs to persuade his colleagues around the cabinet table to invest in the housing, health and welfare support that could actually make the difference in reoffending rates that has so obviously eluded the government so far.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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