David Cameron to introduce prison 'league tables'

Prime Minister calls for inmates to be seen as 'assets' in bid to reduce re-offending

(Image credit: 2003 Getty Images)

David Cameron is to announce a raft of prison reforms, including a school-style league table of penal institutions, to end the "scandalous failure" of the system.

The shake-up, which will affect prisons in England and Wales, is designed to control high rates of reoffending and violence within prisons. In a typical week, the prison system sees around 350 assaults on inmates and staff members, the BBC reports.

Speaking in London today, the Prime Minister will refer to data showing that 46 per cent of released prisoners reoffend within a year, a cycle which costs the justice system up to £13bn annually.

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At the centre of the government's platform is a proposal to allow prison governors more autonomy over how their budget is spent. A trial scheme will see six prison chiefs control how and where to spend their allocated funding.

In addition, the Prime Minister is expected to announce plans for a league table ranking prisons according to their rates of reoffending.

The proposed changes will also include weekend-only prison time for some inmates nearing the end of their sentences, the Daily Mail reports. Labour's attempt to introduce a similar scheme in 2004 was short-lived, although weekend-only terms for non-violent offences have been successfully implemented in many US states.

To head off any criticism that the proposed reforms are "soft" on crime, Cameron will acknowledge that punishment "is not a dirty word" and that not all prisoners are capable of rehabilitation, but that offering offenders keen to reintegrate into society a helping hand is a "great progressive cause".

Calling for inmates to be seen as "assets to be harnessed" rather than "liabilities to be managed", Cameron will also pledge to protect the £130m prison education budget.

"In a compassionate country, we should help those who've made mistakes to find their way back onto the right path," he will say.

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