Government prison reforms not deep enough to be effective says Probation Institute

A new paper on ‘Prison Reform’ by the Probation Institute has been published setting out some of the benefits and drawbacks in the government’s recently announced prison reforms.


The key points in the report are that:

  • The Prison population is unsustainably high
  • Governor autonomy on its own is not enough to reduce reoffending rates
  • Justice reinvestment and sentencing reform are required to achieve reductions in re-offending

The report concludes that prison reform, including governor autonomy and regimes focussed on rehabilitation, can make a contribution to a wider strategy to reduce re-offending. However, without this wider strategy – one that reduces the numbers in prison and re-invests in the resources thus released in community-based sanctions and preventative measures – the effect is likely to be minimal and any reductions achieved unlikely to be sustainable.

“The justice community has known for at least 20 years what the evidence says about what needs to be done. And yet policy that is in line with the evidence on reducing reoffending seems very difficult to implement. We would urge the government to pay heed to the evidence and act accordingly,” said Professor Paul Senior, Chair of the Probation Institute.

“The government reforms take a refreshingly open-minded perspective on rehabilitation but need to go further if they are really to make a difference to community safety,” he explained.

Download a copy of the paper here.

For further comment please contact:

  • Professor Paul Senior, Chair, Probation Institute on 07785756723
  • Savas Hadjipavlou, Chief Executive, Probation Institute on 07802 719138