Offender Management Bill
Lord Judd (Labour)
I wish to express my real appreciation to everyone who has spoken to this amendment. It is good to have so much professional, front-line experience at our disposal in these deliberations.
Two of the things that I admire and appreciate in my noble friend are the thoroughness with which she invariably replies to debates and the sincerity of her intentions. I have no doubt about her sincerity in what she wishes to see in the new paradigm, as she described it, or about the vigour with which she pursues that aim. However, I must draw her attention to something that I cannot help finding significant. Clause 2 and the clause proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, in her earlier amendment have something in common: in each clause's list of purposes, the rehabilitation of offenders comes last.
I am not for a moment suggesting that the intention is to attach any priorities, but I am suggesting that under the pressures of work and limited resources, if something comes last in a list that was not intended to have priorities, there is a way in which that begins to become last in the attention which is allocated to the purpose. That is unfortunate, and this is a missed opportunity. The other purposes and aims matter. Rehabilitation should be first, not in priority, but to establish the framework in which all the others that matter are listed. The rehabilitation of offenders should be there.
I support the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. At Second Reading I referred to my experience as president of the YMCA, and I must not refer to it in detail again. Our experience was that if we were to succeed in this sort of work, we had to take somebody's hand and walk with him through the whole process back into society. There had to be an identifiable person with that objective. To give another example, I referred at Second Reading to a policeman, a former chief constable. However, I remember a vivid conversation with a tough, experienced superintendent of police in the YMCA. He was no sentimentalist. He was just retiring, and he said: "You know, Frank, one of the conclusions I've come to is that if we are to succeed in what we are trying to do, then the moment the person is sentenced by the judge or the magistrate there should be a strong man or woman at his elbow saying, 'Now, come on. How are we going to sort this all out and get it right?', so that, in the context of the punishment, there is someone dedicated to a successful outcome".
I listened carefully to the full and courteous response of my noble friend and, because I like and admire her, I do not want to indulge in hypocrisy. I am disappointed, but I hope that she will go away and reflect on what we have been saying in the past two hours and see whether some adjustments can be made to the Bill to send a clearer signal about its strategic purpose. At the same time, it must recognise all the essential imperatives—if those words satisfy the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay—that must go with that. It should spell out to all concerned that the challenge to which we are determined to respond is to make a success of enabling men and women who have fallen into unfortunate circumstances and crime to come out of that and make a success of their lives. If there is no stronger case for that, then think of the economic cost to society of failing to do it. That is why it is crucial. I beg my noble friend to think about what we have been saying. In the mean time, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.