HC Deb 05 December 1996 vol 286 cc1185-6
1. Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the level of success in the rehabilitation of young offenders who receive a custodial sentence. [6148]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Maclean)

In 1995, the Prison Service commissioned research to identify measures of behaviour and attitudinal change that could be used to assess the effectiveness of regimes to reduce reconviction. Those measures identified are now being tested at six establishments, and the results will be available early next year.

Mr. Sheerman

Will the Minister examine the results of that research and react to it positively and intelligently? Many hon. Members who are concerned about youth crime were disturbed by his reaction to the Audit Commission's recent study of that issue. That dismissal of a perceptive and intelligent review of the youth justice system and what it means for the average person in this country—particularly the victims of crime—did no one in the Government any credit.

Mr. Maclean

The hon. Gentleman misses the point entirely. He asked about the measures that we are taking in young offender institutions to ensure that young offenders are rehabilitated upon their release into the community. Of course we shall look carefully and intelligently at the excellent pilot projects taking place. All YOIs hold courses on anger management, cognitive skills, addressing offending behaviour and drugs courses. Much work is going on inside prisons for youngsters who have been sentenced by the courts. I was critical of aspects of the Audit Commission's report—particularly the Opposition's welcome for it—because it suggested alternative activities for youngsters which would mean that they would never get to court in the first place and never benefit from the courses that we are now evaluating.

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend will know that there is widespread feeling in this country that corporal punishment would be more effective than a spell inside for many young people, who often leave prison more expert in the ways of crime than when they entered. What does my right hon. Friend think about that?

Mr. Maclean

I have no proposals to reintroduce corporal punishment to any prisons or corrective establishments—or indeed to the House.