One aspect of reducing crime is to deter offenders from reoffending. There are currently 85,000 people in prison in England and Wales, with over 60,000 of these sentenced for one year or less. In 2009, 59 per cent of prisoners serving a sentence of less than 12 months reoffended and were back in prison within a year.
The reoffending rate amongst young offenders stood at 72 per cent. With the average cost of keeping someone in prison at around £47,000 a year it is clear that strategies must be in place so that we can reduce the numbers of reoffenders to significantly cut crime and reduce the cost to the tax payer.
About 10 per cent of all active offenders have three or more convictions and are responsible for half of all crime, that is why Community Safety Partnerships like ours in Warwickshire have a duty to reduce re-offending by finding solutions at a local level. We fund and support the Prolific and Persistent offender (PPO) scheme and we are now working on the Emerging Prolific Offender scheme (EPO) to prevent the escalation of offenders to PPO status. The range of this work is beyond any single agency.
The county council can address some of these issues such as education and training, but other such as benefits and debt may need to be tackled at district and borough levels, sometime even by the voluntary sector, involving groups like Citizens Advice Bureau and Futures Unlocked. The key to this work is partnership and the Community Safety and Drug and Alcohol Action Team are well placed to be at the heart of this work. Areas such as child support and safeguarding issues also come under this area of work along with the need to reduce reoffending in Domestic Abuse cases. The work to reduce this reoffending is lead by the Domestic Abuse team and the MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing) to reduce not the levels of violent crime, but to reduce the risk of harm to victims of Domestic Abuse.
An example of the reducing reoffending work comes from the Rugby Community Safety Partnership (CSP). The project has two approaches to achieve this aim:-
- Managing the behaviour of those at high risk of re-offending (tight control)
- Offering rehabilitation by systematically addressing the needs of offenders (including – accommodation, employment, education, training, mental and physical healthrugs and alcohol, finance, benefits and debt, children and families of offenders, attitudes, and behaviour).
The Rugby partnership meets monthly to discuss all at high risk of reoffending and they agree a combination of plans around these individuals using both approaches. Last year they contributed to a 29 per cent reduction in re-offending across Warwickshire so they are making a big difference.