Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to set out wide-ranging shake-up of the criminal justice system

Chris Grayling hopes to drive down 'stubbornly high reoffending rates'
  • @NigelpMorris

All offenders are to be compelled to receive at least one year's supervision in the community after release from prison - no matter how short a sentence they have served.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, will today set out a wide-ranging shake-up of the criminal justice system designed to drive down “stubbornly high reoffending rates”.

The Offender Rehabilitation Bill, to be published tomorrow, will also announce the designation of 70 jails as “resettlement prisons” where inmates are held before their release near their home areas to prepare them for life in the outside world.

At the moment only offenders sentenced for 12 months or more are required to undergo supervision in the community, which can include regular meetings with probation staff to help them with drink and drug problems, as well as with finding a home or job.

The scheme will be extended to all offenders, even those sentenced for a few weeks behind bars, affecting tens of thousands of people jailed every year.

Under the plans, which are due to come into force in England in 2015, it will be made more difficult for ex-offenders to move home while under supervision.

Those who fail to comply with the terms of their supervision could be fined, ordered to do community work or even be jailed for up to 14 days.

In what is being described by the Government as the largest reorganisation of the prison estate since the 1980s, a network of 70 resettlement jails will be created. Nearly all inmates would be transferred to the prison nearest to their home area before release to enable them to establish links with staff working with ex-offenders.

Although rates of recorded crime are falling, reoffending rates have hardly changed in the last ten years, with 58 per cent of prisoners serving less than 12 months going on to reoffend in the year after release.

Mr Grayling said: “These reforms represent a golden opportunity to finally turn the tide and put a stopper in the revolving door of the justice system. It is simply not good enough that we spend £4bn a year on prisons and probation and yet make no real dent in the appetite of offenders to commit more crime.”

The Bill will also extend the testing of offenders from drug use from class A substances, such as heroin and cocaine, to class B drugs, including cannabis.