Rising costs of programmes to help offenders

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Fewer offenders in Northamptonshire are being sent on programmes to help them change their behaviour, but the cost is rising.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the Telegraph has learned that 295 offenders were sent on accredited offending behaviour programmes by the Northamptonshire Probation Trust in 2009-10. This fell to 236 in 2011-12.

Of the 295 offenders who were sent on programmes in 2009-10, 207, or 70.17 per cent completed them. In 2011-12, 79.66 per cent, or 188 offenders, finished a programme.

A NPT spokesman said there was a number of reasons why offenders might not complete a programme, including breaching the attendance or behaviour requirement, the programme being removed due to changes such as employment, education or childcare issues and the court order for them to attend a course being revoked.

The cost of sending offenders on these programmes is increasing.

In 2009-10 the trust spent £668,000 on the programmes. This had risen to £691,000 in 2011-12.

These figures include the cost of sending offenders on community-based sex offender group programmes, although the data for the number of offenders starting and completing this is not included in the trust’s statistics as the course is run by the Staffordshire and West Midlands Sex Offender Group.

A trust spokesman said: “We are deeply committed to ensuring safer communities, fewer victims and reductions in reoffending.

“Accredited programmes are an important intervention in changing offenders’ behaviours to reduce propensity to criminal activities.

“Research continues to evolve and inform the type and range of programmes which we provide to offenders – accredited programmes are expensive and as a trust we specifically focus our work on offenders whose criminal behaviours cause the most harm to our communities.”