Crime rehab failure in UK 'costs £10b'

The failure to rehabilitate tens of thousands of serial criminals is costing the country up to £10 billion a year, a report has said.

Prisoners on short-term sentences are being left idle in their cells for much of the day, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

Overcrowding means that despite having an average of 16 convictions each, little is done to tackle their reoffending, the auditors found.

Activities for prisoners are “inadequate” and prison bosses know little about how well the schemes they do run work.

Around 60,000 prisoners are jailed for less than twelve months each year – costing taxpayers £300 million.

Mostly convicted of theft and minor violent crimes, they make up nearly one in ten prisoners in England and Wales. Often they are homeless, unemployed and addicted to drugs or alcohol.

But most spend as few as 45 days inside, and are released automatically at the halfway point of their sentence. In that time they are not given “appropriate assistance” to help them turn around their lives, the report said.

The auditors praised the efforts of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) – which runs prisons and probation – in keeping them safe, despite overcrowding. But they warned 60% of short-sentenced prisoners commit another crime within a year of getting out, costing the country between £7 billion and £10 billion a year.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Achieving NOMS’ goal of reducing reoffending by short-sentenced prisoners is challenging both because there are so many prisoners and because of the few weeks they have in custody. However, it is reasonable to expect progress towards that goal. More coherent plans for prisoners, tailored to reducing their risk of reoffending, would be a good first step.”

Phil Wheatley, director general of the NOMS, said: “I welcome the NAO report, which I have studied with interest, and the National Offender Management Service will take the recommendations forward.”

Source: Press Association

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