Prisons to do more to rehabilitate foreign inmates

27 December 2013

HMP Canterbury, a jail holding only foreign inmates, was found to have no offending behaviour programmes according to a report for the Chief Inspector of Prisons.  It was said that this was due to the belief that there was little benefit in addressing this particular problem given that the offenders in question were being returned to their home countries after they had completed their sentences. 

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said programmes should be provided for all inmates.  The report found that the prison was generally safe, decent and well-run but prisoners must also be prepared for when they leave custody.  He said "the National Offender Management Service must ensure that offending behaviour and re-settlement needs are addressed for everyone, as happens in other prisons, regardless of final destination or nationality".

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) said that it would consider the report's findings.  Their Chief Executive, Michael Spurr, said "our priority is to facilitate the return of those prisoners whom UK Border Agency take deportation action against.  We will consider the reports findings and consider how best to support the re-settlement of prisoners against whom no action is taken and who remain in the country on release".

He added that training had been identified and provided for supervisors and a new risk assessment model had been introduced.

Inspectors said that the category C training prison was generally well run but described offender management as 'poor'.  The report said that the processes of the UK Border Agency made it 'impossible' to tell whether inmates would be deported, transferred or freed under just before their sentences. 

Although the absence of Offending Behaviour Programmes was as a result of a belief that offenders would be returned to their home country after their sentences, it was found that 20% of prisoners were released into the UK.

The decision not to provide offending behaviour programmes at HMP Canterbury seems to be based on the assumption that they would not be released into the UK.  The report finds that 5% of prisoners are and that what will happen to each of the offenders is not known until relatively late in to their detention period, which would suggest that a 5th of these prisoners are having nothing done to address their offending behaviour, despite the fact that they are later released back into the UK.

The NOMS is part of the Ministry of Justice and their role is to 'commission and provide offender services in the community and in custody in England and Wales'.  Part of their key functions are commissioning and procuring services needed to deliver the Court's sentences, protect the public and reduce re-offending both in custodial and community settings.  Specifically in relation to prisons, they are required to provide and manage services directly to the majority of the prison establishments across England and Wales which covers prison population management, parole, recall and other casework, security, safer custody and public protection services. 

The above is not legal advice, it is intended to provide information of general interest in current legal issues.