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Prison duty to reform serving inmates to become law

Prisoners will now be expected to help reform inmates Credit: PA

Prisons will be expected to reform prisoners as well as punish them under new proposals.

Legislation will be presented by ministers aimed at transforming crisis-hit jails and decreasing re-offending, which costs the UK £15bn a year.

The Prisons and Courts Bill, to be unveiled on Thursday, will make it law for the first time that a key purpose of prisons is to reform inmates, as well as punish them.

Dubbed the biggest overhaul of the prison system for a generation, governors will take control of budgets for education, employment and health.

They will be held to account for getting inmates off drugs, into jobs and learning English and maths.

League tables detailing how prisons are performing will be compiled, with the first data expected to be made public in August.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss wants prisons to turn inmates' lives around Credit: PA

The Bill brings together a number of reforms announced in recent months as prisons were hit by surging levels of violence, suicides and a spate of major disturbances.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "Prison is about punishing people who have committed heinous crimes, but it should be a place where offenders are given the opportunity to turn their lives around.

"I want our prisons to be places of discipline, hard work and self-improvement, where staff are empowered to get people off drugs, improve their English and maths get a job on release."

Other measures in the Bill include:

  • Powers for courts to put an end to domestic violence victims being quizzed by their attackers in family courts
  • Fixed tariffs capping whiplash compensation payouts
  • An extension of "virtual" court hearings, allowing victims to take part without running the risk of coming face-to-face with their assailant
  • A new system allowing those charged with less serious criminal offences -such as failure to produce a ticket for travel on a train - to plead guilty, accept a penalty and pay it online