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Call for payment by results for prisons

By Vivienne Russell | 5 February 2013

The prison service should be included in the payment-by-results system being proposed for probation services, Policy Exchange said today.

A report published by the centre-Right think-tank suggested that prison governors should be paid bonuses if their former inmates do not reoffend.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling last month announced that the bulk of probation services would be outsourced to the private and voluntary sectors, with contracts awarded on a payment-by-results basis. The proposals are currently out to consultation.

Max Chambers, head of crime and justice at Policy Exchange, said adopting payment by results in the criminal justice system was a ‘real step forward’ and would save taxpayers’ money.

But he added: ‘While these reforms could transform the criminal justice system, there’s a risk that the prisons system will refuse to play ball or co-operate with new probation service providers.

‘We want to see prison governors directly incentivised to reduce reoffending. This move will also help to bring about a rehabilitation revolution much more immediately. To build more support for the plans, the government must change the way it measures reoffending and adopt a measure which incentivises providers to really get to grips with the most difficult cases.’

The report called for development of a league table to allow the public to judge prisons’ effectiveness in cutting reoffending.

It also recommended that a higher tariff should be paid to probation providers that successfully rehabilitated the most hardened criminals. This would help alleviate fears that they would cream off the offenders who were easiest to help and ‘park’ the hardest cases.

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