Justice reforms – ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’
‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ is the government’s programme for how offenders are managed in England and Wales since February 2015. Major reforms introduced under programme:
A fee at the point of conviction was introduced to make criminals contribute towards the costs of running the courts system – this has since been abolished due to widespread condemnation and the resignation of more than 50 magistrates in protest.
The maximum penalty for prisoners who fail to return from a period of temporary release increased from 6 months to 2 years in prison.
The 35 Probation Trusts have been replaced by a single National Probation Service, responsible for the management of high-risk offenders and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) responsible for the management of low to medium risk offenders. For the first time, those sentenced to less than 12 months in prison are subject to supervision in the community upon release. CRCs are also responsible for supervising these short-sentence prisoners after release.
60% of the probation service has been outsourced/privatised: contracts were put out to tender and from 1 February 2015 the successful bidders in the competition took ownership of and began running the 21 CRCs.
CRCs receive funding in two parts: a fee for some services, including TTG services and delivering the court sentence and licence conditions. By December 2017 they will receive Payment by Results payments if they achieve statistically significant reductions in reoffending.
A shift in attitude has been foreshadowed to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation. The Ministry of Justice’s impact assessment of the proposals acknowledges that, “given a limit on the overall level of resources available for probation services, and the need for sentences to remain proportionate to the seriousness of the offending, delivering top end community orders may cause a number of primarily rehabilitative requirements to be substituted for primarily punitive ones.”
 Bills and legislation: The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014; The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2010-12; The Crime and Courts Act 2015
 The CRCs started providing new Through the Gate (TTG) resettlement services to short-term prisoners from 1 May 2015. A network of resettlement prisons which house prisoners in the last weeks of their sentence was established and the CRCs provide resettlement services in those prisons.
 Ministry of Justice (2012), Impact assessment: Consultation on sentences in the community and the future shape of probation services, London: Ministry of Justice