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Government is failing to invest in drug treatment.

Monday, September 21st, 2009 Government is failing to invest in drug treatment.

A leading prison governor has accused the Government of failing to pay for adequate drug treatment and rehabilitation courses for hundreds of convicts, which has lead to the overcrowding of prisons.

Paul Tidball, the head of the Prison Governors Association, stated that there was a “mismatch” between prison places and the resources needed to “make sentences work”.

Mr Tidball’s comments come after a criminal justice study revealed that over 1,700 prison inmates are staying longer than the minimum tariffs under the new indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), brought in by the Labour government.

The study revealed that more than one third of inmates jailed under the IPP scheme were not offered a drug treatment programme during their time in custody and only 60 IPP offenders have ever been released.

Mr Tidball said of the IPP policy: “There is no doubt that there is a mismatch between demand and resources. The Government has over the years promoted policies which mean considerably more use of imprisonment and yet has been unwilling, and now is unable, to provide the resources to make the sentences work.”

He added: “Though the public will be relieved to know there is no doubt that high-risk prisoners will be held in custody for as long as it takes for them to be properly assessed and rehabilitated, they will be less pleased that a shortage of resources means offenders are being held longer than necessary at considerable expense to the taxpayer.”

IPP offenders can meet with the parole board after they have served a minimum term. If their request is turned down, they must serve out their sentence in jail with regular two-year reviews.

The Liberal Democrats have obtained official figures that show that IPP sentences are being handed out much more frequently that originally intended and as a consequence, the number of people in prisons is continuing to prise fuelling the overpopulation crisis.
In 2008, the Government was forced to change the law to stop the courts using IPP sentences for less serious crimes.

Andrew Stunell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove, who carried out the study, said: “These prisoners are clogging up prisons at great public cost simply because the Government brought in completely unworkable sentencing rules. IPP prisoners sentenced under the original rules are stuck inside with no prospect of getting the treatment they must have before release.”

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers, has said in her annual report that prisons are “increasingly fractious”, as longer sentences has led people to feel that they had “little to lose”. She also said that disturbances in jails had been contained so far but identified “real risks” of a loss of control in the future.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice said: “We have put in place a number of measures to manage short-tariff IPP prisoners more effectively. A new simplified parole process was implemented on 1 April, this has agreed end to end targets allowing for performance to be monitored for each element of the process. This offers clear lines of accountability and hold agencies to account for their performance.”

She added: “Further funding of £3m was made available to prisons in 2008/09 specifically for the management of indeterminate sentence prisoners which has primarily been used on interventions.”

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