To Reduce Re-Offending
This has been the most challenging arena of my term. Shortly after being elected, the Government introduced their Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) agenda. This split the old local Probation Trust into the National Probation Service with the majority of offenders (in the medium and low risk categories) being contracted out to Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s)
In Dorset the CRC covers Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, making it difficult for me as an elected official covering just Dorset to commission services that are Dorset specific.
Additionally, the Government closed two of the four prisons in Dorset and allocated the majority of prison spaces in the remaining two (Portland and Guys Marsh) to offenders from Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
These changes have, in my view, stalled rehabilitation severely. As the Dorset PCC, I struggle to commission services for Dorset prisoners who are now based in Devon or Wiltshire or elsewhere.
The Government agenda has hampered my ability to commission mentoring and support for Dorset prisoners in an attempt to “break the cycle”.
Despite campaigning with local MP’s, and local professionals, 3 years later, we still have very few Dorset prisoners housed in Dorset prisons.
However, despite this, we can do a lot of things to reduce re-offending. I pledge to:
- Work with partners to expand Neighbourhood Justice Panels to the rest of Dorset.
- Expand tagging of offenders in Dorset. If necessary, I will do this outside of the Government agenda. I remain convinced their current contract to G4S is too expensive, out of date, and not achieving best value for the public purse.
- Lobby Government to change the law so that police can insist on certain high risk individuals being tagged to keep our communities safe.
- Expand Restorative Justice meetings between victims who request a meeting with convicted offenders in prison.
- Work with partners to explore more behaviour changing courses for offenders
Thanks for reading this,