HC Deb 28 October 2002 vol 391 cc539-40
15. Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)

If he will make a statement on reoffending rates among young offenders in the last five years. [75326]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Hilary Benn)

Reoffending rates are not normally measured, as they rely on self-reporting by offenders. Our target is therefore to achieve, by 2004, a 5 per cent. reduction in reconviction rates for young offenders within 12 months of original conviction, reprimand or final warning. Statistics published in June this year for the group dealt with in July 2000—just after the start of the main youth justice reforms—showed a 14.6 per cent. reduction in reconviction rates compared with 1997.

Mr. Robathan

Notwithstanding the hard work put in by many staff, does the Minister agree that young offenders' institutions such as Glen Parva in my constituency are not happy places? Contrary to what the Minister says, the number of those in such places who are reconvicted has increased by 58 per cent. in the past five years throughout the country. Does the Minister think that there are any lessons to be learned from past regimes—for example, approved schools—in terms of why the offending rate was so low then? Does he think that a case exists for a challenging regime of support, rehabilitation and training after custody, to prevent people from re-offending and being reconvicted?

Hilary Benn

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman's last point. If he looks at the work that the Youth Justice Board is undertaking, what he describes is precisely what makes up the intensive supervision and surveillance programmes that youth offending teams are running up and down the country. They provide the rigour that is required to get young people to face up to the consequences of their offending, and they give them the support that they need to live their lives differently in future. That is precisely why we have invested in youth justice reforms, and the whole House will doubtless welcome the early indication that those reforms are succeeding in helping to reduce reconvictions.