It's time that the Conservative justice secretary stopped trying to justify the oversight and started looking at ways to correct it.
It’s time the Conservative justice secretary stopped trying to justify this oversight and started looking at ways to correct it
New numbers released today show just how much the criminal justice system has been struggling to cope with a rising number of sex offenders – and how the government has responded by lowering the number of prisoners in treatment programmes.
As sex offenders are receiving longer sentences, the number in jail has increased by more than 652 in one year, bringing the total number behind bars to 11,150. In the past year the UK has also gone from having five prisons dedicated to sex offenders to eight.
And yet there is insufficient treatment for the growing number of sex offenders behind bars.
In 2012, inspectors found that 46 inmates were released from Whatton Prison having completed no treatment programme at all. 26 per cent of prisoners had to wait a more than a year for treatment to begin, and another 26 per cent had to wait more than two years to get treatment.
Between 2010 and 2013, the number of sex offenders in treatment programmes fell from 1,153 to 1,077 as the number of sex offenders continued to increase. However these developments were ignored by the government as they continued to sideline treatment programmes that could keep communities safe.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson justified the policy by saying: “The new approach targets those with the most prolific offending, who are a much higher risk to the public and more likely to reoffend on release, with lower risk offenders given more appropriate interventions to match their individual needs.”
Labour was quick to criticise the figures, with Sadiq Khan, the Labour shadow justice secretary, lambasting what he called “a monumental admission of failure by the Government”.
He went on to express concern that “hundreds of sex offenders are no longer going to get the treatment programmes they need to make sure they don’t go on and reoffend once released”.
It’s time that the Conservative justice secretary stopped trying to justify the oversight and started looking at ways to correct it.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.