Prison governor welcomes opportunity to prove reoffending can be reduced

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LEEDS Prison is set to become the second jail in the Yorkshire region to be partly funded by a “payment by results” scheme designed to reduce re-offending rates.

Although precise details have yet to be confirmed, it is expected the scheme will be similar to the one at Doncaster, where 10 per cent of the prison’s budget depends on a five per cent reduction in the number of inmates who re-offend after they are released.

The new funding regime at Leeds is set to start in September next year and last for four years.

It is one of a number planned across the country following a successful pilot at Peterborough Prison which started in August 2010. Leeds is the first public sector prison to be selected for the scheme.

Leeds Prison governor Paul Baker said: “This is excellent news for the establishment and builds on the recently published seven outcomes brochure setting out our response to the Government Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders.

“Those seven outcomes include: ‘to be a prison for the local community, delivering effective community partnerships’ and ‘aim to reduce re-offending by 10 per cent for prisoners serving under 12 months’.

“To be awarded the payment by results pilot will build on this and is a fantastic opportunity for the prison.

“Although the details of this pilot have yet to be finalised, it will be no easy task and will give us further challenging work.”

Offenders at Doncaster are each allocated a case manager to support them through their sentences and aid their return into society to try prevent them falling back into crime.

Through regular meetings, home visits and a 24-hour helpline, advice is offered on employment, housing and benefits.

Prisoners at Doncaster – which is run by the private international service firm Serco – who served sentences of less than 12 months are not entitled to any statutory support whey they are released, so many re-offend.

If the target is met, more than 15,000 offences each year could be avoided.

Ministry of Justice figures released yesterday showed there was an average 26 per cent re-offending rate for the 700,000 prisoners who were convicted or cautioned in 2009, with half committed by career criminals.

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