To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Wayland, published on 23 November 2021, whether he plans to undertake research on the effect on rehabilitation and reoffending of the virtual cessation of programmed courses, vocational and employment training and education for more than a year to date.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both prisons and society. As such, research into the impact of the cessation of courses, training and education has not been feasible, due to the various factors that will have impacted reducing reoffending and rehabilitation during the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, we took decisive action in custody to keep staff, prisoners, and the wider community safe. This included adjusting prison regimes to reduce contacts and limit the spread of COVID-19. Since then, we have eased restrictions to allow more activity wherever safe to do so, based on public health advice about the level of risk in each establishment.
Evaluations of previous rehabilitative programmes have been published during the pandemic via Justice Data Lab (see https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/justice-data-lab-statistics-january-2021) and we are exploring the impact that using different delivery models has had on education and other programmes, including the delivery of unpaid work.
Statistics on reoffending and prisoner employment on-release will continue to be published quarterly and further data on education is planned for next year (following our Prison Education Statistics publication in August 2021 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/prison-education-statistics-2019-2020)