Government to introduce prison league tables which measure drug use and rehabilitation figures


Today, I am setting out the Government’s new strategy for prisons – to build more cells to protect the public, and reform the regime so offenders are less likely to return to a life of crime.

We are lengthening prison sentences for serious violent and sexual offenders, to keep them off the streets for longer. We’ve committed £3.75 billion to the biggest prison building programme in more than a century – creating 20,000 extra prison places by the mid-2020s.

Ultimately, most offenders are eventually released back into society at some point. So we need to do much better in reinforcing the regime in prison – so that, as well as punishing and deterring, it gives offenders who are serious about taking a second chance the opportunity to change their ways and go straight. That’s the surest way to reduce reoffending and cut crime overall. Our White Paper sets out a seven-point plan to achieve this and ensures prisons are delivering this Government’s commitment to level up the country by reducing the crime that disproportionately impacts our poorest communities.

First, we’re taking a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and other contraband getting into prisons by making greater use of X-ray body scanners – because prisons can’t focus on turning prisoners lives around, if drugs, knives and mobile phones can get inside.

Second, I want to see offenders assessed on arrival in prison for any drug or alcohol addiction. Each one should have a personal plan to enable them to properly kick their addictions and get off drugs. We need to reduce the institutional over-reliance on opiate substitutes like methadone, itself highly addictive, and focus more on longer-term abstinence-based treatment. We need to spread best practice in recovery wings, like the one at HMP Altcourse, across the prison estate. We also need to make sure there is continuity of treatment when an offender is released into the community, because that is a moment of high risk – a moment of vulnerability, when we need to focus an ex-inmate on making the right choices.

Third, prisons should assess an inmate’s numeracy, literacy, and level of qualifications on admission. They need a plan for training as well as rehab – to give offenders hope that they can build a better life than one steeped in crime. Prison governors will be expected to improve numeracy, literacy and vocational qualifications – to equip every offender for work. A new Prisoner Education Service will put vocational skills like construction and computing at the forefront of this drive, focusing on practical learning that will raise their job prospects and stop them going back to a life of crime.

Fourth, I want to see a step-change in the drive to get inmates (and offenders released on licence) into work. We know it reduces re-offending, by giving ex-offenders a regular pay packet, stability in their lives and a stronger sense of self-esteem. A new digital tool will match candidates to jobs, and deploy dedicated employment advisors into prisons, to help offenders find work. I have seen brilliant examples – from the marketing call centre at HMP High Down, to the haulage firm operating in partnership with Ford Prison. We need to start thinking of work programmes as central to what our prisons do – adapting prisons to accommodate employers, and building better links with businesses in surrounding areas. We are already designing smarter prisons – like Glen Parva in Leicestershire – with large scale workshops that can put inmates to work. We will make sure offenders are properly vetted for employers and assess governors on how many prisoners they get into work.

Fifth, we will ensure prisoners make a proper plan for release, to avoid a return to criminal ways, and help them grasp a precious second chance to turn their lives around. Resettlement passports will bring together all the things they need to start looking for work – like a CV, identification and a bank account. Programmes for drug rehabilitation, skills and work will be more closely linked to the support services available in the community on release. And the new Community Accommodation Service will tackle prison leaver homelessness.

Sixth, we will deploy technology to give prisoners wider in-cell access to education and training courses and enable them to interact with medics – to improve their mental health and stay the course on addiction programs to get them off the drugs which are often responsible for crime in the first place.

Finally, we will recruit up to an extra 5,000 prison officers and upskill our existing staff, so that they are better equipped across the range of expertise required of a modern prison officer. We’ve got some terrific trailblazing governors. We will empower those who deliver the best results, by giving them more autonomy over how their prison is run to meet our strategic vision – with key performance indicators and league tables to spread best practice.

As a government, public protection is at the heart of everything we do. We’re recruiting more police, putting serious offenders behind bars for longer and building state of the art prisons to drive down reoffending to keep our streets safer – as we build back better, stronger and fairer after the pandemic.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

21 − = 15