The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke sets out proposals
03 Apr 2012
The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has today set out proposals to strengthen community sentences and improve the probation service.
The plans will ensure community sentences are a tough and credible punishment that better tackles reoffending, supported by modernising reforms to probation to cut crime. We aim to make better use of the innovation, capacity and diversity of voluntary private providers, in partnership with the probation service.
The consultations propose:
• Intensive Community Punishment sentence - a rigorous new community order for criminals who deserve a serious penalty but can be sensibly dealt with in the community. It will include a package of punishments including unpaid work, significant restrictions on liberty through a curfew with tagging, exclusion from certain areas, a foreign travel ban, driving ban, and a fine.
• At least one form of punishment element in every sentence - for the first time every community sentence will include one form of punishment from the list outlined above;
• Greater and more creative use of electronic monitoring - using technology, such as GPS, to monitor offenders' compliance with their sentence and to track their movements.
• Seizing criminal assets - a new power for bailiffs to seize criminals' possessions.
• Alcohol bans - new power to trial a scheme to ban offenders convicted of alcohol-fuelled crime from drinking as part of a community sentence or suspended sentences using new monitoring technology.
• The Public Sector Probation Service will retain control of the management of offenders who pose the highest risk, including the most serious and violent criminals to protect the public. They will continue to provide advice to court, and take public interest decisions over all offenders including initially assessing levels of risk, resolving action where sentences are breached, and decisions on the recalls of offenders to prison.
• Greater effectiveness and quality in probation services - extending competition, including for lower-risk offenders, to ensure that probation services are delivered by those best equipped to tackle crime and reoffending, and encourage the most effective rehabilitation measures, whether they are in the public, voluntary, or private sectors. Where possible we will pay providers by measured results
• Devolving accountability and responsibility - giving Probation Trusts control of local budgets, including, for example electronic monitoring of curfews, so they can deliver programmes targeted at local needs and reducing reoffending.
The Community Sentencing consultation also includes proposals to improve the use of fines by getting better, more accurate information about offenders' means, to empower offender managers to deal more swiftly with minor breaches, and to encourage greater use of restorative justice and more effective use of compensation orders, which are paid to victims of crime.
Extending the partnership between the Probation Service and the private, public and voluntary sectors, and giving Probation Trusts more control of local budgets of offender management services like electronic monitoring of curfews and joint commissioning for drug and mental health treatment, will help cut crime by driving down reoffending. This will better support the Government's priorities for wider reform of the justice sector, including the development of payment by measured results in cutting reoffending.
The proposals set out in the two consultations build on the reforms already being taken forward in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which include extending the maximum length of a curfew from 12 hours a day to 16 hours a day, from six months to 12 months and introducing foreign travel bans. They are a significant extension of the policy launched by the Offender Management Act 2007 and will speed up the use of the legal powers in that Act.
To view the consultation documents, please follow the links below: • Community Sentences • Probation