Duncan Lewis

Training a new generation of Lawyers

authorised by The Law Society to recruit

68 Trainee Solicitors

Private firms operating prisons start implementing tough new rules which include drugs test and new GPS tags.

Date: (9 May 2013)    |    

Total Comments: (0)    |    Add Comments

More than 50,000 short-sentence prisoners a year are to be given new 12-month compulsory supervision orders under rehabilitation plans run by private companies and charities to be announced by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling.
Ministry of Justice officials say the plans would be the most significant change to short custodial sentences in a decade. It would prevent former prisoners from moving to a different area and subject them to compulsory tests for class B drugs such as cannabis.
The statutory supervision by companies such as G4S or Serco would be for 12 months which would be on payment by results contracts. It would be applicable to all offenders sent to prison for under two years, including petty criminals jailed just for a few days for offences such as non payment of a fine.
Grayling's offender rehabilitation bill, to be published today, will introduce powers to require released offenders to undergo compulsory drug tests for cannabis for the first time while they are living in the community under supervision. Those who test positive will face penalties and be required to attend appointments with the drug treatment services.
While those in the community offenders will probably have to wear a new generation of GPS satellite tracking tags, will have to comply with a programme of support on housing, employment, training and alcohol and drug treatment. These reformed offenders would be used as mentors for the newly released prisoners. Those who fail to comply or misbehave will face being recalled to jail.
Most of the re-offenders have been found to be those who were convicted for shorter sentences of 12 months or less. Under the MoJ plans the extended period of compulsory supervision and rehabilitation will also apply to a further 15,000 prisoners a year who serve sentences between 12 months and two years and are already subject to shorter periods of being released on licence.
The justice secretary is also to confirm his plan for the privatisation of 70% of the probation workload of supervising 240,000 offenders a year. The public probation service’s role would be curtailed to the 30% of work that involves high risk offenders and public protection issues.
A G4S spokesman said the company was well placed to deliver the kind of innovations that the government was looking at. He claimed its long history of working with offenders in partnership with the public and voluntary sectors meant G4S had developed substantial expertise in the area.
Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust said rehabilitation on release made sense but inflexibility with regard to those who breach conditions could refill the prisons. Andrew Neilson of the Howard League for Penal Reform also predicted that many would end up behind bars saying the extra support would do little more than repair the damage that prison had caused by leaving them without a job, home or access to their family.