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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Drive to cut re-offending could see offenders barred from alcohol and gambling

Written by Hayden Smith

Criminals could be barred from drinking alcohol or gambling after they are freed from prison under a new drive to tackle re-offending.

For the first time, probation officers will be able to impose tailored restrictions on individuals released on licence.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said conditions could include a ban on alcohol, gambling or access to online content.

Those who fail to comply with requirements face being brought back to custody.

Probation Minister Sam Gyimah said:"We are committed to improving the supervision of those on probation and challenging offenders to reform and lead law-abiding lives on release.

"We want to ensure that more intensive rehabilitation takes place in the community and it is vital that probation staff have the tools they need to work with offenders to help them integrate safely back into society.

"These new measures will help to protect the public and tackle the issues that lead offenders to commit crime."

Licence conditions are put in place when an offender is released from custody as a way of preventing them from committing further crime.

Until now, the range of conditions that can be imposed come from a standard list.

They can include living at a specified address, a ban on travel abroad without permission or not making contact with a named person.

The changes, which will be underpinned by a statutory instrument to be laid in Parliament on Thursday, mean prison and probation staff will also have the power to target a specific issue that may increase the risk of an offender committing crime.

Additional licence conditions will be applied on a case-by-case basis where the standard requirements are deemed insufficient to ensure the individual's successful integration into the community, prevent re-offending or to ensure the protection of the public.

Officials said evidence of breaches could be drawn from sources such as questioning during supervision meetings, an offender coming to the attention of local police or information from the community making its way back to the offender management officer.

The new measures form part of efforts to bring down re-offending rates estimated to cost society £15 billion every year.

The MoJ said alcohol is a "known factor" in re-offending for some individuals.

From January to March, 5,347 offenders in England and Wales were recalled for breaching the terms of their licence.

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