Last month, LGiU submitted a response to the Government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ consultation. The LGiU welcomes the central idea in Transforming Rehabilitation, which is to reform the system of rehabilitation to prevent offenders from reoffending. However, we think that the Government’s proposals for reform will not achieve their aims and the democratic perspective of local authorities has not been adequately considered in the consultation. LGiU, together with UNISON, advocates a different model for delivering rehabilitation services: Primary Justice.
In summary, the core features of the Government’s plans for reform are:
- The majority of community-based offender services will be subject to competition.
- Providers will be commissioned to deliver community orders and licence requirements, will be paid by results according to achieving reductions in re-conviction rates.
- Extend rehabilitative provision to offenders released from short custodial sentences of less than 12 month.
- Working in partnership with the police and others, the public sector will manage directly those offenders who pose the highest risk of serious harm to the public.
- Providers of competed services will work closely with the public sector.
- A national commissioning function will be put in place to commission delivery of competed services over geographical areas.
- Rehabilitative services will be aligned with the role played by PCCs.
The Primary Justice model proposes that probation services are focussed on prevention and delivered by local partnerships between local authorities, Probation Trusts, and local community and voluntary sector organisations. It relies on central government investing greater trust and responsibility in local organisations, such as local authorities, Probation Trusts and local community and voluntary sector organisations, and devolving central government budgets to local democratic control. This model was developed following the 2009 Local Government APPG on an inquiry into justice in communities. The panel of the inquiry was chaired by Labour’s Clive Betts MP, with the Conservative and Lib Dem Home Office frontbenchers David Burrowes MP and David Howarth MP, along with Baroness Stern, a world expert in criminal justice, and Baroness Henig, President of the Association of Police Authorities.
Primary Justice is:
- Local, community-based and focussed on prevention
- Funded by moving money from national services to a pot in each upper tier local government area to commission local services
- Focused on broader life management issues which can cause offending, and which address a spectrum of problems faced by individuals and families, including:Based on principles of restorative justice
- Mental health, including substance and alcohol misuse
- Employment, education and skills
- Family and relationships
- Based on principles on restorative justice
- Rooted in openness and transparency of information on justice
- Rooted in existing local democratic and accountability structures
In the Primary Justice model, local authorities would have the funding and ability to invest in early prevention initiatives to prevent crime. We envisage that they would control a devolved budget taken from the funds currently spent on lower risk offenders. Primary Justice is local, community-based and focussed on prevention. The local budget could include devolved funds from the prison budget, the administration budget for magistrate’s courts, local policing and probation. Upper tier councils would be designated to hold the funds.
It should be part of a wider approach that also tackles concerns about behaviour disruptive to good community relations, in a way that is effective and provides community reassurance without the need to criminalise that behaviour. It should enable local areas to use available resources wisely to achieve the best outcomes for their communities.
Primary justice should be about communities taking responsibility for meeting the needs of vulnerable people as part of delivering safety and justice for the whole community, and helping everyone become a contributing member of society. Support should recognise that there can be an overlap between victims and offenders, and that becoming a victim can itself create needs that are easily overlooked. The right services should be available across the spectrum of problems that individuals and families have, including the recognition that needs are often linked.
LGiU will be working with UNISON over the coming months to advocate for the Primary Justice model. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact: Laura.Wilkes@lgiu.org.uk