Justice Committee

Press notice No. 30 of Session 2007-08

06 June 2008 / For Immediate Release


Online forum asks: how would you spend it better?

£5 billion is spent every year on prisons and probation, and another £1.3 billion has recently been granted to build three new "titan" prisons to house the ever expanding prison population. The Government has just launched an inquiry into these new titan prisons, but some of the facts about re-offending after prison raise questions. Is prison working? And if it isn't, what will more, bigger prisons do?

Justice Committee Chairman Rt Hon Alan Beith said: "The facts on the effects of prison make unhappy reading - latest figures show that after prison or a community sentence, 45% of violent offenders go on to commit more crimes, and in the case of burglary and theft offences that rises to well over 70%. And those new offences cost the public further vast amounts of money. So are we getting value for money for that £5 billion? Could it be better spent some other way that would reduce crime?"

The House of Commons Justice Committee is holding an inquiry into "Justice Reinvestment": the idea, being trialled with some success in crime-hit communities in the United States. Can money spent in the criminal justice system be "reinvested" in mental health services, drug treatment, education, community services, with greater effect in reducing crime?

As part of this inquiry the Justice Committee is hosting an online forum to hear what people think about these ideas. There is a lack of hard evidence about the cost benefit of prison sentences, and also about what works most economically to prevent crime. The Committee wants to hear from people who have experience of crime in their communities and what would work to stop it, or who have seen crime reduction programmes that they think really work.

They would like to hear from victims of crime - do they think that prison is making sure that more people do not suffer what they have suffered? They'd also like to hear from offenders themselves about what has worked or they think would work to stop them committing more crimes. What is the one thing that work in your area to reduce re-offending and crime? How would YOU spend that £5 billion better?

Members of the Committee will be participating in the forum which opens at midday on Tuesday June 10 at http://forums.parliament.uk/prisoncosts and will run for 6 weeks.

The public's input to the forum will feed directly into the recommendations the Committee makes to the Government. As with all Committee inquiries, the Government then has to respond to those recommendations.

1. For media inquiries and bids please contact Jessica Bridges Palmer (020 7219 0724) email: bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk;

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), Mr David Heath MP, Siân James MP, Daniel Kawczynski MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Robert Neill MP, Dr Nick Palmer MP, Linda Riordan MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Mr Andrew Turner MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP and Dr Alan Whitehead MP

Further Information:
Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 8196/ 8198, email: justicecom@parliament.uk

Committee Website: www.parliament.uk/justicecom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Select Committee Calendar: www.parliament.uk/what_s_on/hoc_news3.cfm

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