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7 March 2014, 08:16
Hampshire's Police and Crime Commissioner is heading up a big conference in Winchester later - looking at the impact of planned changes to the probation service.
A shake-up of the criminal justice system will see some old prisons closing - and also private firms brought in to tackle repeat offenders and manage their rehabilitation.
A National Audit Office review today examines whether current reforms of the criminal justice system are addressing the issues identified by the spending watchdog in past studies on, for example, the prison estate, police technology, bought-in services and financial management.
Today's review draws on NAO value for money studies and audits of financial statements and documentary evidence in the public domain, to highlight the many challenges to an efficient system. Major changes are being made to the criminal justice system at the same time as significant reductions in resources. At the end of March 2013, for example, the number of police officers was some 127,000, or 10 per cent lower than three years earlier.
The White Paper Transforming the CJS, published in summer 2013, set out a two-year programme of reform. Some of these changes include reforming the prison estate by closing old and inefficient prisons and investing in modern accommodation; and the establishment in 2013 of the Criminal Justice Board, designed to ensure a 'whole system' approach. A minister has also been appointed with responsibility for Policing and Criminal Justice.
The reforms are intended to address many of the systemic problems based on an understanding of the causes. In particular, efforts are being made to reduce the demand in the system by tackling those offenders with the highest rates of reoffending and improve the use of new technology for sharing information between partners. It is too early, however to comment on whether they will be effective.
There remains, however, much to be done to tackle inefficiency and reduce the multiple points of failure within the system. Potential initiatives include replacing the manual transfer of data with well-designed digital transfers between agencies; and developing a strategic approach to improving the collection rate of fines and confiscation orders, both to offset running costs and to demonstrate that crime does not pay.
The spending watchdog's review concludes that the effects of multiple, concurrent changes are difficult to model but are likely to be significant. Although organizational changes can be implemented relatively quickly, implementing deeper changes to working practices, system developments and cultures will take months and years.
In addition, if the system is to achieve real efficiencies and planned cost savings, then departments, agencies and local criminal justice partners need to implement as a priority an agreed and coherent plan to address problems with the flow of information.
8 million: The number of crimes estimated in the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending June 2013.
£17.1 billion: Total funding of the criminal justice system by central government.
£24 billion: Estimate of the social and economic cost of organised crime to the UK annually
37 per cent: The percentage of Police reports which contained an adequate summary of the evidence needed by the prosecutor for presentation in court.
2,000: The approximate number of police force information systems, connected through local infrastructure, managed locally by around 5,000 staff.
24 years: Age of the Crest case management system, used in Crown Courts, making it difficult to maintain and enhance.
49 per cent and 55 per cent: The proportion of 'ineffective' or 'cracked' trials in crown courts and magistrates courts respectively, quarter 3 2013.
£17-19 million: Estimated cost in terms of staff and judiciary time of 'cracked' and 'ineffective' trials, which did not proceed as scheduled, in 2012.
Over 80 per cent: Ministry of Justice estimate of the percentage of trial results transferred automatically to the Police National Computer, ensuring that offenders' criminal records are up to date.
As a result of the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation strategy, the UK's probation service is undergoing the most dramatic overhaul of offender management ever undertaken. This is likely to have significant consequences on the ability to reduce and manage reoffending.
On 7th March, Hampshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, and the High Sheriff of Hampshire, Rupert Younger, will be jointly hosting a one day conference that explores new ideas and structures in the emerging landscape of reducing reoffending.
Entitled Reducing Reoffending: Transforming Rehabilitation - new ideas, new structures, the conference will discuss the potential impact of the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation strategy for reforming probation services and will feature many of the UK's leading experts in this area.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes comments on his hopes for the conference:
"The Government's Transforming Rehabilitation proposals raise a number of significant questions and concerns from organisations involved in offender management. With an apparent lack of evidence on how these proposals will work in practice, I - like so many others - fear the impact of imposing these changes at such a fast pace.
"The conference could play a critical role in bringing together experts from all aspects of offender management to discuss and debate how we reduce and managing reoffending through partnership working through this time of change and continue to deliver positive results in this area.
"Successfully delivering the Government's strategy will play a critical role in protecting people and places, so I sincerely hope that discussions and the resulting recommendations from the conference will be considered by those responsible for developing national policy."
During the day, three panel discussions will focus on:
- the policy perspective driving reform
- the delivery perspective, and
- the community perspective
The panellists include Greg Berman, from the Centre for Court Innovation; Phil Bowen from Centre for Justice Innovation; Antony Salz, author of The Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behaviour; Mark Johnston, the founder of User Voice; Shauneen Lambe from Just for Kids Law; HH Judge Keith Cutler, Hon Recorder; Barrie Cook from Hampshire Probation Trust, Governor David Rogers from HMP Winchester, Alison Smailes, Youth Offending Team at Hampshire County Council; Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester; Dennis Phillips and Susanna Grant from the Timpsons Foundation; Charlie Adie from Motiv8; Ian Langley from Troubled Families Initiative; Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Police Constable Mark Walsh from Hampshire Constabulary; and Robin Jarman, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The discussions evolving from the Reducing Reoffending Conference will be captured in the form of a White Paper that will be submitted to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and discussed with the Ministry of Justice.
High Sheriff of Hampshire Rupert Younger said: "I am delighted to be working with Simon Hayes, our Police and Crime Commissioner, on this important initiative for Hampshire. The Winchester Conference creates a unique forum where international, national and local perspectives engaged in reducing re-offending can be shared and debated. I am particularly pleased that we have secured such eminent speakers from the UK and elsewhere, and look forward to what I know will be an engaging and enlightening conference".