IPPR publishes: A whole-system approach to offender management

The system for offender management in England and Wales is in need of serious reform. In their current configuration, offender management services – that is, prisons and probation – are overly centralised, complex, and disjointed. Adult reoffending rates remain stubbornly high. Local areas have few incentives to invest in efforts to reduce reoffending. And there is little continuity between provision in custody and provision in the community. The recent ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ agenda has exacerbated these problems by introducing a new layer of complexity – in the form of community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) – onto an already fragmented system. In order to address these challenges, this report sets out a vision of a whole-system approach to offender management, where powers, resources, and decisions are transferred to the local level. In the long term, we argue that city region mayors – or outside of city regions police and crime commissioners (PCCs) – should have responsibility over probation services and custody budgets for short-sentence, young, and women offenders. In this parliament, given that CRC contracts are now ‘locked in’ until beyond 2020, there is less scope for radical reform. Where there is appetite, however, local areas should be able to bid for controls over custody budgets (for certain cohorts), commissioning of ‘secure schools’, and further co-commissioning powers. This programme of reform would create incentives for local areas to invest in preventative services and alternatives to custody, facilitate closer partnership working between agencies, and provide greater scope for innovative ways of reducing reoffending.

See the full report here.

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