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Prisons and Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:32 pm on 20th March 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 8:32 pm, 20th March 2017

I strongly welcome this Bill because it will help to improve the rehabilitation of offenders, which is at the heart of preventing more crime and keeping the public safe.

Prisons are the end of the line for maintaining law and order in this country, and we expect an awful lot of them. Of course, prevention is always better than cure, and we need to redouble our efforts in cracking down on the scourge of drugs, which so often leads to a life of crime. We also need to continue to provide more and more ladders of opportunity for people to engage in legitimate, worthwhile and rewarding study and work. Rehabilitation in prison cannot take place unless the environment is safe and secure, and it is absolutely right that those words appear on page 1 of the Bill.

If we are to reform and rehabilitate offenders and prepare prisoners for life outside prison, we need to focus on a number of areas. Many prisoners arrive in prison with serious mental health issues, and making sure that the very best mental healthcare is available for prisoners must be at the heart of the prison regime. I welcome the moves towards joint commissioning so that prison governors are more involved with the mental healthcare being delivered within their prisons.

I was also delighted that the Secretary of State agreed to take forward the Farmer review, to keep prisoners’ family and other relationships healthy and strong where it is safe to do so. Some prisons, such as Parc in Bridgend, as we heard in the wonderful speech by Mrs Moon, are already doing that work really well. If prisons are truly to be places of reform, we cannot ignore the reality that a supportive relationship with at least one person is often indispensable to prisoners’ ability to get through their sentence well and achieve rehabilitation. It is not only family members who can provide that. Other significant and supportive relationships can make a significant difference to the prevention of reoffending.