Reoffending

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th September 2015.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody will now receive probation supervision for the first time, as well as continuity of provision from custody into the community. Building on those reforms, we want to improve and expand learning, training and work in prisons.

Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East

Over the summer I visited Thorn Cross prison in Cheshire to see the excellent Sycamore Tree restorative justice project. I also had the pleasure of visiting the Out There project—a charity that supports families in Greater Manchester to hold themselves together when their loved ones go inside. Both projects have had measurable impacts on reducing offending. Will the Minister join me in praising those types of projects and those who work in this field up and down the country?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I most certainly will. I had the pleasure of visiting Thorn Cross myself not so long ago. I met a number of prisoners who had undertaken the Sycamore Tree course, and they told me what a benefit it had been to them. I commend the hon. Gentleman very warmly for stressing the importance of families and strong family relationships for prisoners. The chief inspector of prisons highlighted that in his recent report, and he was right to do so.

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

My hon. Friend will know that last year, at the request of the previous Secretary of State, I wrote a report on former service personnel in the criminal justice system containing 15 recommendations designed to ensure that that cohort does better as regards reoffending rates. Will he update the House on how those recommendations are being implemented?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I am very grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. We are taking his report extremely seriously and working through the recommendations. In particular, I commend to him the work of the charity Care after Combat, with which I am sure he is familiar. Having spent a lot of time seeing its work, I can tell him that it is expanding across the prison estate and will help us to achieve the points he rightly raised in his review.

Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigns Chair

Cutting reoffending means giving prisoners the skills they will need once they leave prison. Yet a report by the Prisoner Learning Alliance, which meets this Friday in my constituency at Leeds Beckett University, shows that 58% of prisons judged last year by Ofsted require improvement or prove inadequate for learning and skills provision. What is the Department going to do about that?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise these points. This can be done. Hollesley Bay recently had an outstanding Ofsted report, and where it leads, others can and need to follow. The combined PE, English and maths course taught in the PE department at Swaleside has been highly successful in getting hard-to-reach prisoners to engage in education. We need more initiatives like that. The Secretary of State has mentioned the Timpson academies. I would also mention the Halfords academy, the Clink restaurants, Census Data Group and many others that are doing outstanding work in the areas the hon. Gentleman rightly draws attention to.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Does the excellent prisons Minister agree that to stop reoffending we need to close Victorian prisons and open more modern prisons? In Wellingborough, a prison that was modern and successful has been temporarily closed. Has he any plans to reopen it?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend is ingenious, as always, in the way that he poses his question. He is right that we need a fit-for-purpose prison estate. As for Wellingborough prison, I am afraid I have nothing to add to the answers I have given him repeatedly in the past.