What are Labour pledging to do for the prisons and probation sector?
Labour have started their plans for the prisons and probation sector by stating that they are tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, but feel that over recent years things have become too tough for the people working in the sector. Prisons are too overcrowded and staff levels are too low. To solve this, they are pledging to publish annual reports on prisoner-staff ratios, recruit 3,000 more prison officers, and review the professional development and training currently available. They are also planning to lift the public sector pay cap to increase prison and probation staff retention.
To help reduce reoffending, Labour will insist on the creation of personal rehabilitation plans for each prisoner. They feel that prison should be a last resort; used only as the most severe punishment for serious offences. As many prisoners have underlying mental health issues, they would like to review the current support and provision available for these individuals.
In terms of youth offences, Labour will apply many of the beliefs and practices that it has done previously. They will continue to incentivise local authorities, police forces and probation services to engage effectively with young people at risk of falling into criminal behaviours. They will also embed restorative justice practices across all youth offending institutions.
Labour disagrees with the privatisation that has taken place in the prisons and probation sector. If they were to win the general election no new private prisons would be created and no public-sector prisons would be privatised. They will also review the role of Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).
Overall, Labour’s policy appears largely to be very similar to what it was a number of years ago. Their key focuses are staff recruitment and retention to reduce the existing pressures on prison staff and altering many of the changes made by Conservatives over recent years.
If you would like to read Labour’s full 2017 election manifesto, please click here.
What are the Conservative party pledging to do for the prisons and probation sector?
The Conservatives believe that prisons should be places of reform and rehabilitation, but that it should be used only as a punishment for people who commit serious crimes.
They acknowledge that the high annual cost of reoffending shows that more needs to be done to improve the current system. They want prisons to become places of safety, discipline, and hard work where people are given the support they need to turn their lives around. They want prisons to help prisoners gain the qualifications and training they need to find employment on release, whilst providing support to those with underlying issues such as mental health difficulties or drugs and alcohol addiction. They will also introduce dedicated provision for female offenders.
They plan to improve the prison estate by investing £1 billion to replace the most run-down prisons and create 10,000 new prison places. They are pledging to reform the entry requirements, training, management and career progression of prison officers. They would also like to create a legal framework for prisons to strengthen the inspectorate and ombudsman to provide better external scrutiny during inspections of prisons and probation services.
The Conservatives feel that community punishments are currently not doing enough to prevent crime and break the cycle of reoffending. They will create a national community sentencing framework that punishes offenders and uses measures that have a higher probability of preventing crime, such as curfews and orders that tackle drug and alcohol abuse.
For the Conservatives, their manifesto is largely about continuity of their existing policies. Their focus is on making prisons places of reform and creating a number of new prison places by renovating old establishments.
If you would like to read the Conservative’s full 2017 election manifesto, please click here.
What do we think?
Here at OlassJobs we will support any government that promises to put support, rehabilitation and education at the core of the prisons and probation sector. We know that it is these things that play a vital role in reducing reoffending, preventing overcrowding, relieving staff pressures and transforming the justice sector. The general election provides an opportunity for existing policies to be reviewed. We hope that whichever party wins this election gives the prisons and probation sector the focus, support and funding that it deserves.