Reducing Reoffending

Prisons should be places of rehabilitation: when people leave them they should be ready to reintegrate into society with work and a place to live. But, the prison system is in crisis and not delivering this: prisons are overcrowded and understaffed and riots, drug use, suicide and extreme violence have all become far too common. For decades, Labour and Conservative governments have repeated the same failed policies, desperate to appear tough on crime while failing to properly provide the services that help people build lives free from crime. Only the Liberal Democrats have a vision for making the justice system work. Instead of wasting money locking people up on short sentences that don’t work, we will spend it on the things that actually prevent crime. We will protect people from becoming victims of crime by focusing on what works to stop re-offending. We will:

  • Transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery by recruiting 2,000 more prison officers and improving the provision of training, education and work opportunities.
  • Reduce the number of people unnecessarily in prison, including by: introducing a presumption against short prison sentences; ending prison sentences for the possession of drugs for personal use; and increasing the use of tough community sentences and restorative justice where appropriate.
  • Establish a Women’s Justice Board and provide specialist training for all staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system.
  • Reduce the overrepresentation of people from BAME backgrounds throughout the criminal justice system, including by:
    • Uniformly recording data on ethnicity across the criminal justice system and publishing complete data to allow analysis and scrutiny.
    • Introducing a principle of “explain or reform”: if the criminal justice system cannot explain disparities between ethnic groups, then it must be reformed to address them.
    • Promoting greater diversity in the criminal justice system by ensuring that the police, prison service and judiciary all adopt ambitious targets for improving the diversity of their workforce and requiring regular reports on progress to parliament.
  • Improve and properly fund the supervision of offenders in the community, with far greater coordination between the prison service, probation service providers, the voluntary and private sectors and local authorities, achieving savings in the high costs of reoffending.
  • Ensure that all prison-leavers have a suitably timed release and are supported with suitable accommodation, a bank account and employment or training, and are registered with a local GP.
  • Improve mental health support and treatment within the criminal justice system and ensure continuity of mental health care and addiction treatment in prison and the community.
  • Reform criminal record disclosure rules so that people do not have to declare irrelevant old and minor convictions, and remove questions about criminal convictions from initial application forms for all public-sector jobs.