Even when someone is sent to prison, the government fails in its mission to reduce crime because of the spectacular failure of prisons to rehabilitate offenders – work that should be the heartbeat of the system. That over two thirds of prisoners leave prison and return to a life of crime, only to find themselves back behind bars within two years, is unacceptable. Any business model with this Return on Investment would quickly find itself in liquidation. This expensive failure costs society at least £12 billion a year and leaves our streets in too many communities, no go areas.
Operationally our prison system is a familiar case of mass public investment devoid of a coherent strategy. The government’s National Of fender Management Service (NOMS), one of whose primary tasks was to cut the reoffending rate, has spent more than £18 billion since 2004, to little or no effect. The reoffending rate is still high at up to 75 per cent of young offenders returning to prison within two years.