Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Jail project bid to cut reoffending

Serco is launching a pilot scheme at Doncaster jail which it hopes will reduce reoffending rates

A payment-by-results project at a prison could see more than 15,000 fewer offences a year if it hits its targets, a private security firm has said.

Serco said the pilot scheme, which will see prisoners at Doncaster jail given a case manager to support them both behind bars and on their release, would make 10% of its annual revenue dependent on it cutting the reoffending rate by five percentage points in each year of the four-year scheme.

Most inmates at the privately-run South Yorkshire prison serve sentences of 12 months or less, meaning they are not usually entitled to any support when they are released, the firm said.

But under the pilot scheme, case managers will offer advice and help on employment options, housing and benefits through regular meetings at the prison and phone calls and visits to offenders once they are released.

Offenders will also be given access to a 24-hour helpline for support and guidance at any time.

The pilot will see Serco work with youth charity Catch22 and the health and social care organisation Turning Point and is one of six payment-by-results projects which are part of Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's plans for a "rehabilitation revolution".

John Biggin, the prison's director, said the scheme gave Serco the flexibility to tailor support to individual offenders.

"Ex-offenders are most vulnerable in the first three months after release - they may have lost their homes and jobs and have little to return to," he said. "This is when they are most likely to reoffend, and why the support we can provide them with is so important."

Chris Wright, chief executive of Catch22, said the case managers would offer the "consistency of support" which offenders need to start again back in the community.

Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point, said the scheme would help to co-ordinate support around issues such as physical health, mental health, substance misuse, employment and housing.