Community Justice Files 35

Published 15/03/2015
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Nick Flynn, Ross Little
Corresponding Authors

Offender Rehabilitation Act, 2014
On 1 February 2015 the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) came into force, meaning an extension of supervision to 45,000 prisoners per year released from short prison sentences of less than twelve months. Any person whose offence was committed on or after 1st February, and who is sentenced to a custodial term of more than one day, will in the future receive at least 12 months of supervision in the community. The Act, passed in March 2014, accompanies the Transforming Rehabilitation programme.

The full details of the legislation can be read here:

The Announcement of the legislation by the Ministry of Justice can be found here:

One in, one out: New interim Chief Inspector of Probation announced
On 2 February 2015, in a written statement made by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, it was announced that the Chief Inspector of Probation, Paul McDowell, had resigned. Given that Mr McDowell’s wife is employed in a senior management position by Sodexo, a multi-national services and facilities corporation which, in partnership with the crime reduction charity Nacro, has been awarded six of the 21 new probation contracts, Chris Grayling announced:

I have considered carefully all of the potential mechanisms and systems that could be introduced and used to manage any actual or perceived conflict of interest. However Mr McDowell has decided that, in the circumstances, he will resign.

The statement of Mr McDowell’s resignation can be read here:

Following Mr McDowell’s resignation, on 16 February 2015 it was announced that the new interim Chief Inspector of Probation is to be the former Chief Executive of London Probation Trust, Paul Wilson. Mr Wilson is to lead the probation inspectorate while a permanent Chief Inspector is being recruited.

The Ministry of Justice announcement of Mr Wilson’s appointment can be found here:

Evaluation of the “day one mandation to the Work Programme”
The Department for Work and Pensions has recently published an evaluation of the “day one mandation to the Work Programme” initiative. The initiative requires people leaving prison who are claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) to join the Work Programme immediately on release.

The compulsory nature of the initiative is due to the recognition that people leaving prison face considerable barriers to employment and need greater support to find work. The apparent advantage of the programme for prisoners is that they can make an advance JSA claim from up to five weeks before release and can receive additional support to help them find work.

The evaluation included 57 interviews with prisoners and a telephone survey with 1,013 prison leaver JSA claimants. Almost three in 10 (28%) claimants surveyed had all or part of their benefit stopped because they failed in some way to follow the requirements of the programme. Those respondents aged under 25 years were more likely (31%) to have all of their benefit stopped compared to those aged 25 and over.

A copy of the evaluation, published in December 2014, can be found at:

New figures on prison drug seizures
According to figures provided in response to a parliamentary question, the Ministry of Justice has disclosed that the number of illegal drug seizures in prisons in England and Wales is rising. There were almost 4,500 instances of illegal substances taken from prisoners in 2013-14 compared to just fewer than 3,800 in 2010-11.

The disclosure accompanies a press release by the Ministry of Justice published on 25 January 2015, announcing a crackdown on so called ‘legal highs’ in prisons. Prison governors have received guidance from the Ministry of Justice setting out new measures available to deal with these New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) including closed visits, additional time in prison and removal of privileges. Legal highs such as ‘spice’ are synthetic drugs containing chemical compounds which produce similar effects to illegal drugs.

The Ministry of Justice press release, New Crackdown on Dangerous Legal Highs in Prison can be found here:

Prisoners to make kit for the army
Prisoners will make sandbags, fence posts, hydraulic jacks and other support products for Britain’s armed forces after a new ten-year service level agreement was signed by ministers. The agreement to supply army equipment between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence builds on a six month trial and was signed at HMP Coldingley.

The announcement by the Ministry of Justice can be read at:

The costs of prison staff redundancies
In a speech to the Prison Reform Trust delivered on 26 January 2015, the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, stated that the Ministry of Justice was in the process of recruiting a further 1,700 prison officers. Three weeks later, in response to a Parliamentary Question asked by Shadow Justice Minister Jenny Chapman, the Prisons Minister Andrew Selous revealed that in 2013 the Ministry of Justice spent more than £56 million on redundancy payments to prison staff in England and Wales.

The transcript of Chris Grayling’s speech to the Prison Reform Trust is available at:

The response by Andrew Selous to the question by Jenny Chapman can be found in Hansard at:

And it was also reported on the BBC News website at:

European Court of Human Rights ruling on UK prisoner voting rights
In a press release published on 10th February 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has announced its latest ruling against Britain for refusing to grant prisoners the right to vote. The judgment that it was illegal to deny 1,015 prisoners the vote between 2009 and 2011 follows the ruling by the ECHR in October 2005, in the case of Hirst v the UK, that refusing prisoners the right to vote is a violation of article 3 of protocol 1 to the European convention on human rights, which relates to the right to free elections. The Council of Europe is due to return to the issue in September 2015 after the Coalition Government in defiance of the ruling officially ruled out changing the law. However, despite the ruling, the ECHR has declined to order that any of 1,015 claimants are entitled to compensation or their legal costs. The court ruled that no compensation was due because the case for compensation brought by the prisoners was nearly identical to other prisoner voting rights cases in which the court has never awarded compensation and laid out clear protocol to that effect.

The ECHR press release, Remaining legacy prisoner voting cases: ECHR finds violation of the right to vote but awards no compensation or legal costs, is available here:{“itemid”:[“003-5010996-6151237”]}

And a fact sheet published by the ECHR on prisoners’ right to vote is available here:

MP’s Select Committee statement on the detention of mentally ill people in police cells
In its report on policing and mental health published on 6 February, the Home Affairs Select Committee has said that the prevalence of people with mental health illness in the criminal justice system is a continuing scandal. The detention of children, in particular, must stop immediately. The committee’s main findings include:

• The Mental Health Act 1983 should be amended so that police cells are no longer stated as a place of safety for those detained under section 136.
• It is clear that too many NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are failing in their duty to provide enough health-based places of safety that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are adequately staffed. CCGs must not only acknowledge local levels of demand and commission suitable health-based places of safety; they must also design local backup policies to deal with situations where places are occupied. CCGs need to provide more “places of safety” in NHS hospitals so the police are not forced into filling the gap.
• The police need to make sure they use their powers in relation to mental health correctly, to reduce the numbers detained and so reduce pressure on both the police and the NHS. Frontline staff need to learn from one another, and each organisation needs to understand the priorities of others.
• Early indications of the effectiveness of the Street Triage scheme are very positive, it is important that the scheme is fully appraised. We recommend that the Government give a clear commitment that funding will be made available for schemes which have been proven to be cost-effective.

The full report, Policing and Mental Health, can be read at:

The main findings of the report and Chair’s comments can be read at:

The contribution of Youth Offending Teams to the work of the Troubled Families Programme in England
Work relating to the Troubled Families programme represents a “sizable and growing profile of Youth Offending Team (YOT) workloads” according to this joint inspection by the HM Inspectorate of Probation, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Ofsted. The inspection was commissioned by the Criminal Justice Chief Inspectors’ Group and visited six local authority areas, drawing on group interviews with staff relating to 107 cases and interviews with 30 service users. The report found considerable differences in the “scale and ambition” of the programmes across local authority areas and also that uncertainties about the lead professional role limited the ability of staff to deliver co-ordinated packages of services. YOT practitioners needed to be clear about the priorities and outcomes being addressed for families in a multi-agency context.

The full report, The Contribution of Youth Offending Teams to the work of the Troubled Families Programme in England, a Joint Inspection by: HM Inspectorate of Probation, Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Ofsted is available from HM Inspectorate of Probation at:

Improving efficiency of criminal justice proceedings
Following a review published in January 2015 of the justice system led by Sir Brian Leveson which inter alia included proposals for expanding the use of video technology to allow suspects to appear remotely in court from prisons and police stations, the Civil Justice Council has called for the creation of an online court for low value civil claims of up to £25,000. In the introduction to the report, published in February 2015, Professor Richard Susskind, IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice writes:

We predict two benefits would flow from HM Online Court – an increase in access to justice (a more affordable and user-friendly service) and substantial savings in the cost of the court system. On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) is not science fiction… We argue that to improve access to justice, it is vital not just to have better methods of resolving disputes but also to have effective ways of avoiding and containing disputes. ODR can help here.

The Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings by The Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson is available at:

The Civil Justice Council report, Online Dispute Resolution for Low Value Civil Claims by the Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group is available at:

The Coalition Years
A report on The Coalition Years has been produced by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. The report seeks to explain criminal justice developments across the United Kingdom over the five years between 2010 and 2015 and considers the challenges facing an incoming United Kingdom government after the May 2015 General Election. All three United Kingdom criminal justice jurisdictions are covered: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Coalition Years focuses on three areas of criminal justice reform: policing, punishment and legal aid. It seeks to articulate the political nature of criminal justice reform, shaped as it is by a complex array of economic, cultural, historical and ideological influences. The report supplements the four UK Justice Policy Review reports published over the previous five years.

A copy of the full report can be found at: