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My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary published a five-year strategy for protecting the public and reducing reoffending on
I recently visited HMP Ashfield near my constituency. I was concerned when I met some 17-year-old lads there to discover that they were due for release in a couple of weeks and that, as yet, the prison authorities have not arranged any accommodation for them to go to on their release. I was even more concerned to hear that there is an 82 per cent. reoffending rate at the institution. Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a direct correlation between those two points and can she assure me that the Government's new plans will address that?
My hon. Friend is right about the direct correlation, which is a point that the strategy that we published last week clearly emphasises. She is also right to highlight the current difficulties, but she will be reassured by the fact that, in the first half of this financial year, the number of prisoners with accommodation on release rose by 11 per cent., and we are taking action to ensure that that rise continues.
Does the Minister agree that a problem has arisen because of the lack of research on offending and recidivism in relation to cautions? Reports in Birmingham indicating that somebody is allowed to shop lift once a year without fear of prosecution should create concern.