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Offender Management and Treatment - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:54 pm on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ramsbotham Lord Ramsbotham Crossbench 3:54 pm, 3rd October 2019

My Lords, I thank everyone who has contributed to this debate, which, if I might say, summed up the House at its very best. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Marks, for summing up so many of the contributions, which all mounted up to believing that all is not well with the management and treatment of offenders in prisons and in the community. I also thank the noble Earl for standing in for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen. I was very glad that he agreed to take back much of what was said to the relevant Ministers, particularly the Secretary of State.

I will pick out and comment on six speeches. I am very grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester and others for including issues surrounding women, which I neglected to add to my opening remarks. I am particularly grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood for mentioning the IPPs, which I similarly omitted.

The noble Lord, Lord Beith, mentioned the cost of imprisonment. I asked what the cost of imprisonment was on my first day as chief inspector. A Home Office official told me how much money they had been given by the Treasury and how much money they had passed on to the prison service. I said, “That’s not what I meant. How much would it cost to do all the things that Ministers say would, should and could be done with prisoners?”. I do not believe that anyone knows that cost, nor do they know what it would cost to do all the things that are said should be done by probation. Until and unless we know that cost, we cannot know what cannot be done. That is a very important issue.

I mention to my noble friend Lord Bichard the shock with which the 1998 Office for National Statistics psychiatric morbidity statistics in prison were greeted when they were suddenly published. That was 20 years ago. I just remind the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, of the Scandinavian system, where sentencers award sentences that include certain targets. If a prisoner has got through all the targets set, the governor can take the prisoner back to the court and ask for them to be released on licence.

The last person I mention is my noble and learned friend Lord Woolf, who agreed with me that above all we must have a strategy. Without a strategy we are going nowhere.

Motion agreed.