Report finds improvement in prisoner rehabilitation

Credit: Presseye

A report by the Criminal Justice Inspection NI (CJINI) has found a drop in the number of prisoners recalled while on licence.

Prisoners serving more than 12 months can be released early, as part of their rehabilitation, but a breach of their parole or licence conditions can see them brought back into custody.

The latest figures, up to August 2015, show that of 2,505 offenders released from custody, 723 (29%) were subsequently recalled to prison, a six percent drop since 2010.

The inspectors' report found current processes were working "reasonably well".

It examined the balance between allowing offenders the opportunity to make a fresh start with the needs to manage the risk of further offending and ensuring public safety.

Brendan McGuigan, who heads CJINI, said the report showed offenders who attempt to deal with their behaviour and have the support of friends and family can "move on and contribute positively to society".

Those who do not address their behaviour, who suffer from mental illness, addiction and who have poor life skills and limited family support are more likely to be recalled to custody, the report found.

Mr McGuigan called for additional input from the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland and the Justice Department's Offender Recall Unit to help manage the demand on resources when offenders are returned to prison.Among the recommendations CJINI produced as the use of hostels or other 'step-up, step-down' facilities, as an alternative to bringing offenders back to prison in circumstances were it will not increase the risk of reoffending or impact on public safety.