By Richard Staines
12 July 2010
A think-tank has today called for Britain’s prison and
justice system to be reformed to tackle drug addiction and antisocial behaviour
and help ex-offenders find employment.
The Centre for Social Justice’s Criminal justice and addiction
green paper says that crime by ex-prisoners alone costs society at least £11bn
Recommendations include scrapping the National Treatment
Agency for drug addicts and replacing it with an Addiction Recovery Board, to
get addicts off drugs and alcohol through greater use of pioneering rehabilitation
Police should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to antisocial
behaviour, with every officer given the freedom to exercise common sense and
discretion and intervene immediately to stop loutish behaviour, the paper says.
It also calls for new crime and justice commissioners to
devolve control of policing back to communities.
The paper says the National Offender Management Service,
which administers correctional services in England and Wales, is expensive and
bureaucratic and should be replaced with trusts working closely with
communities and elected police commissioners.
It also says prisons should get tough on drug and alcohol
use through use of sniffer dogs and drug testing and there should be
legislation to assist people with a criminal record to find stable employment.
Gavin Poole, new executive director at the Centre for Social
Justice, said: ‘For too long our police have been handcuffed by targets,
bureaucracy and Whitehall prescription.
‘Our judicial system is increasingly disconnected from the
communities it should serve and a lack of transparency in sentencing has
fuelled public distrust.
‘Hard-working probation officers – undermined by the National
Offender Management Service experiment – are forced to tick boxes and manage
unworkable large caseloads.
‘Toothless community sentences too often leave sentencers
with no option but prison. Many prisons are now purposeless and overcrowded
warehouses, devoid of rehabilitation.’