Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100 - 119)



  100. 60,000?
  (Mr Narey) 60,000 separate educational qualifications gained by prisoners. Thirdly, we have got the sort of courses which Mr Steinberg mentioned which are dealing with typically resettlement, getting people job interviews, jobs and so forth. Our strategy is to encourage all three.

  101. What percentage of prisoners are involved in accredited programmes? Am I right it is 10 per cent?
  (Mr Narey) In accredited programmes about 86 per cent of prisons now run accredited offending behaviour programmes.

  102. I did not mean of prisons, I meant prisoners?
  (Mr Narey) Prisoners?

  103. Yes, it is about 10 per cent, is it not?
  (Mr Narey) About 10 per cent of the static population.

  104. So 90 per cent are not involved?
  (Mr Narey) That is correct.

  105. However much extra money you negotiate from the Treasury, do you seriously expect that you are radically going to change that number in any reasonable length of time from 10 per cent up to something more like 50 or 60 per cent?
  (Mr Narey) As I mentioned, we have increased the number very significantly in recent years. It has risen very dramatically indeed clearly because I have stressed the need to deliver these programmes meticulously and we would lose accreditation which is not done by us, it is done by an independent body, we would lose accreditation if we did not continue to do that meticulously but I think we could significantly and quickly expand the programme.

  106. To what level?
  (Mr Narey) I am already confident that over the next two or three years we will reach a target of about 9,000.

  107. 9,000? That will be an increase of 50 per cent which will be quite impressive and still leave 50,000 untouched?
  (Mr Narey) I acknowledge that.

  108. Presumably it will take a year or two to get to 9,000, will it?
  (Mr Narey) It would take us about two or three years to get to that figure.

  109. In three years' time you are saying that 50,000 will be untouched rather than 54,000?
  (Mr Narey) For offending behaviour programmes, but as I have explained that is only part of our arsenal. Every prisoner at the same time will be having a basic skills assessment. Every prisoner will be going for assessment for whether or not they need help with drugs. The proportion of the prison population who we think are suitable and can benefit from offending behaviour programmes is very much smaller than the 68,000 we currently lock up.

  110. I am shocked, I must say, by your statistic that two-thirds are ineligible for 96 per cent of all jobs. Presumably there are one-third, 20,000 of the 60,000 population at any one time, who are eligible for 96 per cent of all jobs?
  (Mr Narey) That is correct.

  111. Of that one-third, how many go into jobs?
  (Mr Narey) I would have to work it out. We believe that of prisoners in total being discharged at the moment about 29 per cent tell us that they are going into a job or into training of some sort.

  112. 29 per cent go straight into jobs?
  (Mr Narey) Or training.[9]

  113. Or training, right. Of those who leave the door, 58 per cent come back within two years?
  (Mr Narey) Based on those who were sent into prison in the mid to late 90s the current reconviction rate is about 58 per cent.

  114. You mentioned that basic education is the single biggest thing you can do, which sounds sensible. I asked the question of an old school friend of mine who has worked in a prison as a Governor about what the single biggest thing one could do was and his reply was "ensure the moment somebody walks out of a prison door they have got a job to go to of some sort", yet I think 77 per cent do not by the sound of it. The report mentions in 4.16 this Custody to Work unit with funding of £30 million over three financial years, that is £10 million a year. What is your total budget for programmes that reduce reoffending, whether it is accredited programmes or job clubs or whatever it is?
  (Mr Narey) I do not have that figure to hand.

  115. What is your total budget?
  (Mr Narey) The total budget for the Prison Service?

  116. Yes.
  (Mr Narey) About £2 billion.

  117. Of the £2 billion, roughly how much goes into—other than the fabric and what one might call basic essentials to keep prisons going—things that are to do with education and training or literacy or drug rehabilitation, things that might come broadly under the category of reducing prisoner reoffending? Roughly out of that £2 billion, how much goes on reducing prisoner reoffending?
  (Mr Narey) I will check on this figure and write to you if I am well off beam. It is quite a small proportion of that. I would think from our annual basis for programmes that reduce reoffending, probably no more than about £200 million.[10]

  118. Is that the biggest and the rest of it simply goes on—What is the biggest item, is it buildings or staff?
  (Mr Narey) The biggest is pay for our staff carrying out the custodial function primarily.

  119. Have you looked at possibly employing different kinds of staff to replace the staff you have now so that you can increase the proportion going on things reducing prisoner reoffending?
  (Mr Narey) Yes, we have. First of all, we have significantly reduced the number of prison officers we have relative to prisoners so we are much more efficient than we used to be. Most of the money that we have received from the Treasury to invest in programmes we have essentially had to find ourselves because, unlike most other public services, I am almost unique in that for the past three years I have had to pay back in cash a cash reduction every year of one per cent of my budget. Essentially that is money that has come back to me to pay for programmes. We have used that by employing, first of all, different sorts of staff, many more probation officers, many more psychologists, and also different sorts of prison officers. The prison officers we employ now are younger, much more likely to be coming into their first career and they are brighter, they have to have five GCSEs or equivalent now and a few years ago they did not. We are getting different sorts of professions but also different sorts of people joining as prison officers.

9   Note by witness: 23% say they are going into a job and 6% say they are going into education or training. Back

10   Note by witness: Subsequent analysis shows that around 14% of the overall Departmental Expenditure Limit is put to reducing prisoner reoffending, some £265 million in 2001-02. This sum is slightly higher than my initial thought when asked at the hearing. Back

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