October 24, 2012 3.27 pm This story is over 133 months old

Your MP: How justice reforms will reduce reoffending

At what cost? In this week’s column, Karl McCartney looks at how reforms in the justice system are meant to reduce reoffending rates.

The safety and security of the law-abiding citizen is a key priority for this Government. Everyone has a right to feel safe in their home and in their community. When that safety is threatened, those responsible should face a swift and effective response. We rely on the criminal justice system to deliver that response: punishing offenders, protecting the public and reducing reoffending.

The average annual overall cost of a prison place in England and Wales for financial year 2010-11 was £39,573. The Government is clear that there must always be places for those that judges sentence but it is important that we manage a stable, effective system.

Prison is the best punishment for serious criminals, because it protects the public, removes offenders from society, and takes away their liberty. However, almost half of all adults leaving prison are reconvicted within a year and for those serving short sentences, the figure is even higher. The same criminals are endlessly recycled through the courts, prison and community sentences, creating new victims of crime and extra costs to our society.

The vicious circle of reoffending costs the economy between £7 and £10 billion per year. To cut crime, we need to be far more successful at enabling prisoners to go straight after serving their sentence. That is why I am pleased that our Government has embarked on wholesale reform to create a rehabilitation revolution to prevent offenders committing further crime. Prisons will become places of hard work and training, where prisoners are expected to work a 40 hour week, with money from their earnings deducted to support victims’ groups.

Additionally, community sentences have not won public confidence as an effective punishment. The Government is overhauling them so they are tough, credible and robust. Unemployed criminals will be forced to work a minimum of 28 hours over four days, with the fifth day spent looking for full time employment. For tagged offenders, the curfew time will be extended from 12 to 16 hours, and the period for which they can be imposed from 6 to 12 months.

The extension of payment by results will mean that the taxpayer only funds rehabilitation services that work. Together with determined action in areas like mental health and addiction, these measures will help cut reoffending. The Government is also modernising the Probation Service so that it brings in more of the energy and innovation of the widest possible range of providers, freed to focus relentlessly on the goal of reduced reoffending.

I am pleased that the Government has taken action to set out how an intelligent sentencing framework, coupled with more effective rehabilitation, will enable us to break the cycle of crime and reoffending.

There is, however, more to do. Since my election to Parliament, I have argued for much tougher penalties for people who drive without insurance. I shall continue to impress upon the Government the very real need to address at the earliest opportunity the issue of uninsured drivers and the unacceptable problems they cause to society as well as the wider issue concerning the cost of car insurance premiums for all, but especially younger drivers.

Karl McCartney was the Conservative Lincoln MP between 2010 and 2017. He is now the Conservative candidate for the city for the next general elections.