Prisons and Probation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:03 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee 2:03 pm, 14th May 2019

That was very shocking evidence indeed. Frankly, it is an indictment of every one of us that we are releasing people under those circumstances. I have here a piece of evidence from, I think, a visit to a CRC premises in south-east London, not far from my constituency, that was trying to supervise people who were sleeping in church halls, or sleeping rough in a graveyard or on the night bus. It is an obscenity, frankly, if we are releasing people from prison, with the objective of trying to get them to turn their lives around, and they are trying to live under those conditions. It makes rehabilitation work impossible. Getting those things right is actually much more important than the argument about who owns, manages and runs the service; they are fundamental issues. I believe that the Secretary of State has the opportunity, the willingness and the determination to do that.

Both the Secretary of State and the new Minister of State, my hon. and learned Friend Robert Buckland, are used to working on the basis of the evidence. Both they and I are also proud to hail from the one nation tradition within our party. That tradition reminds us that Conservative Members have always had a long-standing belief in social reform, as Members of other parties do, too. No one party has a monopoly on that. Getting prison and our criminal justice system right is a great cause of social reform, and I believe that the Secretary of State and the Minister get that and understand it. Equally, though, if all the evidence points one way, then that is the decision that the tribunal comes to. If they put those two things together, we have an opportunity to make progress in the coming weeks—I hope—and months.