Schedule 4

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice) 2:30 pm, 25th October 2007

If it were appropriate for me within the rules of procedure of the Committee to ask your leave to withdraw the new clause, Sir Nicholas, I would do so, but it is not, so I shall not. I wish to respond briefly to the Minister.

Although we would not admit this on a party political occasion, I believe that the Minister and I have much in common in our concern about what is happening in the custodial estate. He mentioned the huge cost of young offender institutions, secure training centres and some secure children’s homes. He says that he wants to prevent failure and that failure is reoffending. Well, we are already failing. The reoffending rate for people under 21 is about 75 per cent., and some studies suggest that it is over 80 per cent. We are already failing, so that huge investment per young person that the Minister spoke about is already wasted money. We are not seeing a dividend.

Prisons, young offender institutions, secure training centres and other places where children are kept in custody are part of a secret world, about which we do not know enough. I hope that this short debate has acted as a window through which we as parliamentarians can look into the secure estate. It is unfortunate that this occasion did not provide a window through which those inside can look out to a world that is prepared to welcome them back as long as they are reformed, rehabilitated and prepared to live useful lives. It is essential that somehow or other we create those metaphorical windows so that we can get better value for money and far better outputs, to use a rather nasty word, from the criminal justice system.

At present, we are wasting money and lives, and, in some respects, destroying lives. I want all of that stopped. I want our streets and communities to be safer, and the reoffending rate to come down sufficiently. We will never get down to the ideal of zero, but the rate is far too high at present, and we seriously need to do something about it.

I would be interested to learn more about the joint review. I had not heard of it. That may be my fault, but I would be pleased if the Minister sent me details about it or let me know if it is on some Ministry of Justice website. I shall not detain the Committee further. I hope that the proposals will shunt things on a bit in a sensible way.