Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner welcomes the introduction of resettlement prisons, but warns the planned probation overhaul threatens the potential success of the proposals.
Tony Lloyd’s comments follow his visit to HMP Manchester on Friday to see the work the prison is doing to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for release.
The Ministry of Justice announced last week, plans to establish 70 resettlement prisons across England and Wales, which will mean the vast majority of prisoners will be released in, or close to, the area that they will live. It also means frontline staff outside prison can start building links with the offender at the earliest opportunity, whether that’s employment, training or drug and alcohol services.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said the proposals will mean ‘rehabilitation in the community can begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates’.
Trials will begin in the North West in the Autumn and HMP Manchester is included in the pilot.
“I welcome this announcement from the Ministry of Justice – it makes sense to allow offenders to rebuild their links with the local community that they’re going back to before they are released,” said Tony.
“If we are to truly tackle reoffending, we can’t just simply release a prisoner through the gate with just his bus fare and nowhere to live and then expect them to stay on the straight and narrow.
“There is already some good work going on to rehabilitate offenders and tackle the issues that drive them to crime in the first place. Just last week, I visited Strangeways to see the work they are doing to address drug and alcohol issues, and work with offenders to change their behaviour and get them ready for the outside world. But more needs to be done to bring reoffending rates down and these proposals are a step in the right direction – as long as they are a properly funded and given a chance to bed in.”
However, Tony has issued a stark warning to the Justice Secretary to rethink his plans to overhaul the probation system, which will see parts of service contracted to the private sector.
“The plans for resettlement prisons need to take into consideration this good work, to make sure we don’t lose the local knowledge of people already working in our prisons, rehabilitating offenders,” adds Tony. “The planned changes to the probation system threaten this, particularly in Greater Manchester where our strong partnership working has seen improvements in the way services are delivered. If the Government is serious about tackling reoffending, then they need to have a radical rethink, otherwise this announcement is a non-starter.”