Home UK News ‘Recalls’ to prison by the Probation Service soar 23%, despite 75% of those recalled not re-offending, leading to criticism

‘Recalls’ to prison by the Probation Service soar 23%, despite 75% of those recalled not re-offending, leading to criticism

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recalls to prison increase

According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, 60% of prisoners released from custody go on to be ‘recalled’ to prison, an increase of 23% from the same period last year, and this is the highest since pre-Covid levels. This is despite only less than 25% of these recalls prompted by re-offending behavior.

Most people sentenced in Britain will be released at the half-way point of their total sentence to serve the rest in the community. They may be released later, such as two thirds into their sentence if sentenced under certain legislations. A recall is when the probation service return a person released into the community back into prison for a specific length of time, an indeterminate period of time, or for the rest of their sentence.

A recall to prison does not go through the court system, and is requested and authorised primarily by the Probation Service on their own authority. It can only be challenged 2-3 months after it has been initiated.

The MoJ have put the sharp increase in recalls down to an ‘increase in the length of determinate sentences, the amount of people serving indeterminate sentences, and an increase in the number of people serving sentences with an extended license’, however, people highlight that this still doesn’t explain the fact that these imprisonments are not a result of re-offending.

Every probation centre in London received terrible ratings following inspections by the Chief Inspector of Probation, Justin Russel towards the end of 2022, with many, such as that of Lewisham and Kensington handed the lowest rating possible: inadequate.

Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster probation centre received zero out of a total of 27 inspection points.

A former probation officer based in England, only wishing to be referred to as Michael, says such a sharp increase whilst the service is performing so poorly should be ‘concerning’.

“I believe senior officials need to take a closer looking at the reasons for their officers sending people back to prison. Imprisonment by the Probation Service is to be a last resort. If we are sending most people back, while we aren’t even getting things right ourselves, should it be trusted that we have been doing that for the right, justifiable reasons?”

“Part of our job is helping people move forward from the issues that landed them here in the first place. I genuinely fear mistakes by the service is responsible for alleged issues people in the community may be having. I guarantee most of those recalls were avoidable.”

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the following: “The issues leading to recall are very often about the adequacy of the practical support they receive and poor communication between prison and probation services.”

In cases of IPP prisoners, Peter says “[The MoJ] must pay close attention to how to keep people out of prison once they have finally managed to achieve release. Failing to do everything that might make that possible is a terrible betrayal of the individual concerned. But it’s also a failure to protect the public.”

“Probation’s motto used to be ‘advise, assist and befriend’. All of those things are actually about protecting the public in the best possible way, by helping someone rebuild their life after prison. Let’s hope the chief inspector of probation is asked to look at how the service could do more of that and, as a result, recall fewer people to prison.”

The increase in recalls comes at a time when judges have been asked to imprison fewer people because prisons are dangerously overcrowded, leading to more people handed non-custodial sentences.

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