Prisons and Probation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 14th May 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 3:40 pm, 14th May 2019

I hear the hon. Lady, and I share her sense of urgency. I cannot promise a specific timescale, but, as a former Solicitor General, I have considerable experience of dealing with such offending, which is a very high priority for me. I am grateful to her for raising it at this early opportunity.

My hon. Friend Victoria Prentis made an important and comprehensive speech. Although I would like to address her many points in turn, it would perhaps be an invidious encroachment on the House’s time, but I look forward to working closely with her, particularly on developing better alternatives to custody. She is absolutely right on that; I have been a sentencer, as a former part-time judge, so I know that it is vital to have integrity in all the options before the sentencing court—whether custody, community sentences or another type of disposal. I take her points very much on board and look forward to engaging with her.

Right and hon. Members made other points about the performance of CRCs. I accept that performance has been mixed, but quick actions have been taken to raise the quality of supervision. For example, telephone supervision was amended last year to mandate at least one face-to-face appointment per month with every offender. Changes were also made to introduce higher standards to more fairly reflect the cost of delivering services. As a result of the ending of the CRC contracts earlier, we will now expect to spend about £1.4 billion less on CRCs than was originally expected.