Response to Daily Mail by Peter Hand Deputy Director of Make Justice Work
Earlier this week the Daily Mail splashed on its front page that around one in four offenders on community sentences were failing to comply with their terms. The Mail also reported that half of these would go on to re-offend during the course of their community sentence.
Too many offenders serving a community sentence do indeed commit crimes and some community sentences are not working as they should. This is clearly not acceptable. Make Justice Work wants to see the wider use of tough and effective community sentences that help offenders to face up to their problems and straighten out their lives. The evidence for such ‘Intensive Community Punishments’ – or ICPs – is far more impressive than those for typical community sentences of the kind that the Mail is rightly criticising.
The Government also wants to see ICPs used more widely and recognises that they lead to lower rates of reoffending than short custodial sentences. A great deal of money could be saved if they were more widely available, but the cuts mean that government will not invest in them. Instead, Ministers are looking to the commercial and voluntary sectors to put up the necessary money on a ‘Payment by Results’ basis. The future of Ken Clarke’s ‘rehabilitation revolution’ depends heavily on whether this experiment can be made to work. If not, many low-level offenders will continue to go to jail – at huge expense to the taxpayer – and they will go on making life miserable for the rest of us when they come out again.