Re-offending rate set to threaten prison funding

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DONCASTER Prison is to be funded in a ‘payment by results’ pilot scheme aimed at reducing reoffending rates.

Serco, which manages the jail on behalf of the Government, is to have 10 per cent of its budget dependent on it achieving a five per cent reduction in the number of inmates who reoffend on their rlease into the community.

It is the first time prisons have been at risk of losing funding if reoffending rates do not drop. It is estimated if Serco meets the target, more than 15,000 offences could be avoided per year.

The four-year pilot scheme is aimed at meeting the specific needs of individual offenders to help them avoid falling back into a cycle of crime.

Offenders will be allocated a case manager to support them through their sentences and after they regain their freedom.

Serco said it is an important improvement because most prisoners at Doncaster, having served sentences of 12 months or less, are not entitled to any statutory support on discharge, meaning many fall back into lives of crime.

Advice and help will be offered on employment, housing and benefits through regular meetings at the prison and phone calls and home visits.

Offenders will also have access to a 24-hour helpline for support and guidance.

John Biggin, director of Doncaster prison, said: “Ex-offenders are most vulnerable in the first three months after release – they may have lost their homes and jobs and have little to return to.

“This is when they are most likely to reoffend, and why the support we can provide them with is so important.”

The Ministry of Justice will evaluate the four year pilot scheme at the end before deciding whether to introduce it nationally.