‘David Cameron will reveal plans for wholesale changes to the prison system including giving more power to prison governors and ranking the 121 jails in England and Wales in league tables.
In a speech in London…he will lay out a strategy to give governors “full autonomy” over how they run their prisons and spend their budgets, with six jails set to get “reform prison” status by the end of 2016 and half of all prisons set to acquire those freedoms by 2020.
The prime minister will admit the failure of the current system is “scandalous” and say that prisoners should be viewed as “potential assets to be harnessed”.
In a sign of how government thinking has been influenced by education policy, new prison performance data will be published enabling jails to be compared in league tables on measures such as reoffending.
There will also be a drive to improve the quality of education in prisons, with David Laws, the former Lib Dem schools minister, taking an unpaid role chairing a new social enterprise working on recruiting top graduates into prison education.
The plans will be included in a prisons bill introduced in the next session of parliament, and the government is promising to protect the £130m prison education budget in cash terms.
Explaining the need for reform in what No 10 is describing as the first speech from a prime minister focusing solely on prisons since John Major in the 1990s, Cameron will say: “The failure of our system today is scandalous.”
“Forty-six per cent of all prisoners will reoffend within a year of release; 60% of short-sentenced prisoners will reoffend within the same period. And current levels of prison violence, drug taking and self-harm should shame us all.’ – Guardian
‘He is also expected to say he is accepting the recommendations made in Dame Sally Coates's review of prison education, due to be published soon.
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was highly unusual for a prime minister to take such a close interest in prison reform, but Mr Cameron wants to make it a "great progressive cause" in British politics.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said Mr Cameron's proposals were "only part of the equation - you have got to look at what drives crime".
She said the focus on prisons by the government was long overdue but it would be a "really steep challenge to try and sort it out".
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "Prisons are currently violent and overcrowded. As such, they fail everyone: victims, the public, staff and prisoners themselves.
"Prison reform, however, is the tip of the iceberg.... We need action now to tackle sentence inflation and the profligate use of prison. Then the prime minister's vision can become a reality."
In his speech, the prime minister will say: "We need prisons. Some people - including, of course, rapists, murderers, child abusers, gang leaders - belong in them.
"For me, punishment - that deprivation of liberty - is not a dirty word.’ - BBC
‘The intervention follows Mr Cameron’s new year promise to focus on ‘real social renewal’. He later said Britain was in the middle of a ‘turnaround decade’ of social reforms. The Prime Minister will announce today that:
- Some governors will gain control over budgets, rules and education;
- Some offenders will be banned from drinking after release and fitted with tags to detect alcohol consumption;
- New GPS technology will allow constant monitoring of criminals on community service;
- Mobile phone firms will be told to switch off the signal near prisons to stop convicts making calls;
- New league tables of prisons will show which are best at rehabilitation.’ – Mail