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Improved support for prisoners leaving after short sentences is a must, says Vera Baird QC

4th October 2016

Vera Baird QC has said it’s vital that the Government improves the support made available to prisoners leaving prison after short sentences.

Her comments follow the publication of a report by the HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which found that ‘overall , services were poor and there was little to commend’.

The report, entitled ‘An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Short-Term Prisoners’ revealed that too many prisoners were reaching their release date without immediate needs such as accommodation or employment being met by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the ‘Through the Gate’ provision.

Vera Baird QC, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “Here in Northumbria we have a good working relationship with our Northumbria CRC, which is led by the former high performing Probation Trust, and wasn’t involved in this inspection. However, as this report illustrates, nationally, the system is failing and has not delivered the positive change as was intended.

“For us, an important issue is that the CRC are unable to tell us what the reoffending figures are, which we used to receive, as the information is no longer given to them from the Ministry of Justice, the CRC say. Without this data, pressure  is placed on us in our commitment to tackle crime and protect the public a reoffending is a big part of crime and reoffending rates are highest for those serving short prison sentences. That’s why we need to see clear, incentivised targets and measured performance along with innovation and creativity to support this large group of prisoners better. By doing so we can reduce reoffending and ultimately reduce crime within all our communities.”