HC Deb 02 December 2002 vol 395 cc603-4W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the interim results are from the evaluation, under the Crime Reduction Programme, of the resettlement pathfinder projects which run from January 2000 until April; and what plans he has for further investment in support for work with discharged prisoners. [82962]

Hilary Benn

An initial application for advice on the work piloted by resettlement pathfinders has already been submitted to the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel (formerly the Joint Accreditation Panel). The response from the panel was encouraging but indicated that further developmental work was required specifically in relation to young adult offenders, women and minority ethnic offenders. To allow for this further work to proceed the three current resettlement pathfinders (Pare, Hull and Lewes) have been extended and are scheduled to run to at least the autumn of 2003.

The core programme (For-A-Change) has now been piloted with a young adult offender group and plans are being developed to establish a new pathfinder project to be delivered to short-term female prisoners. The programme material is to be reviewed to ensure that it addresses the specific needs of minority ethnic offenders and those with low levels of literacy.

To ensure that this work adequately reflects recent national reports on resettlement published by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) and jointly by the probation and prisons inspectorates, a joint prison/probation service project board has been established. This board will focus on the needs of short-term prisoners (those serving less than 12 months).

The Criminal Justice Bill, published last week, includes proposed legislation for the introduction of 'custody plus'. The experience gained through the delivery of the current resettlement pathfinders will be used to inform planning undertaken by the National Probation Service and the prison services for the introduction of this new sentence.

The report of the resettlement pathfinders evaluation, which will give interim findings, is currently being prepared for publication.

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