§ Lord Peston
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans they have to introduce new sentencing arrangements. [HL2494]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton)
As part of our objectives of reducing crime and dispensing justice fairly, we have already put in place a comprehensive programme of work to reduce the rate of reoffending. This includes ensuring that the prison and probation services work more effectively together; improving the enforcement of community penalties; developing programmes, in custody and in the community, which are known to reduce reoffending (based on the "what works" strategy) and building on the opportunities which new technology opens up.
Together these developments present an opportunity to consider possible new forms of sentences which better protect the public and reduce reoffending. In particular, they open up the possibility of a more flexible sentencing structure in which the boundaries between custodial and community penalties are less rigid. However, the current legal framework established in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 may not be best suited to an approach of this sort. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has therefore decided to review that framework. The review will complement that of the criminal courts being conducted by Lord Justice Auld. Its terms of reference will be:
"In the light of the Government's objectives to protect the public by reducing crime and reoffending, and to dispense justice fairly and consistently, to consider what principles should guide sentencing decisions; what types of disposal should be made available to the courts in order to meet the overarching objectives; the costs of different disposals and their relative effectiveness in reducing reoffending; what changes therefore need to be made to the current sentencing framework, as established by the Criminal Justice Act 1991, so as more effectively to reduce reoffending, including any transitional and consequential arrangements; and the likely impact of any recommendations in terms of costs and the effects on the prison population. In particular, the review should bear in mind the desirability of promoting flexibility in the use of custodial and community based approaches."
The review will be led by a senior official from the Home Office. I want it to be a rigorous, evidence based exercise. It will operate in an open way, involving and 12WA seeking views from as wide a range of interests as possible. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary expects it to take about 12 months from now to produce recommendations, which will then be the subject of formal consultation.