Ask anyone what purpose prison serves and they’ll be pretty clear in their answer. The NOMS statement of purpose and vision is very clear too:
‘We work to protect the public and reduce re offending by delivering the punishment and orders of the courts and by helping offenders to reform their lives.’
However, this simple two line statement actually translates itself into one of the largest organisational confusions that exist in theUKtoday.
Maybe it is the incredibly broad nature of the statement that allows for such wide interpretation, or maybe it is that regardless of the political bias there has not been a UK Government in the last 25 years that has known, let alone been able to articulate what they want from prisons.
The crucible of the confusion is around helping offenders to reform their lives. There is a vast and growing network of government bodies, charitable providers and private companies all involved in various programmes designed to deliver this aim. Think of any of the seven pathways and they are well supported with any number of providers. In fact, it’s a bit like a rehabilitation hypermarket, pick a pathway and choose the provider. In essence it sounds like the perfect commissioning model, just what the government need, tailored programmes for a specific population, delivered in the most cost efficient way.