Work to rehabilitate life sentence prisoners could improve, say inspectors
Most life sentence prisoners did not reoffend and were able to lead productive lives on release, said Liz Calderbank, Chief Inspector of Probation, and Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of a joint inspection into life sentence prisoners. However, they added that the work done with life sentence prisoners at key points in their sentence could be improved.
- assumptions were often made that life sentence prisoners knew all about ‘the system’ which led to an underestimation of the amount of advice and help they needed;
- they were treated much the same as other prisoners, with little attention being given to their particular circumstances and as a result, some were able to serve their sentence with relatively little challenge to their attitudes and behaviour;
- once in open conditions, preparation for release relied heavily upon release on temporary licence (ROTL) and planning for this needed to be improved;
- the quality of offender assessments, particularly those completed in custody, left room for improvement and confusion abounded about who was responsible for completing these assessments at key times in the sentence; and
- sentence planning was weak and probation staff struggled to design meaningful objectives for those who appeared to have done all required work in custody.
Notes to editors:
- View a copy of the full report.
- Only 2.2% of those sentenced to a mandatory life sentence and 4.8% of those serving other life sentences reoffended in any way, compared to 46.9% of the overall prison population. See (25 July 2013), Table 19a, ‘Adult proven re-offending data, by custodial sentence length, 2000, 2002 to September 2011’, Proven re-offending tables – October 2010 to September 2011, Ministry of Justice, London.
- The number of prisoners sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment has increased over recent years. Such prisoners now make up 16% of the prison population (as at 31 March 2013), compared with only 9% in 1995.
- Inspectors visited six Probation Trusts and six prisons during the course of the inspection. The Trusts visited were: Avon & Somerset, Cheshire, Kent, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Surrey & Sussex. The prisons visited were: HMP East Sutton Park, HMP Kirkham, HMP North Sea Camp, HMP Risley, HMP Send and HMP Shepton Mallet.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with individual adults, children and young people who offend, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public.
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.