Dorset PCC Continues To Fight For Dorset Prisoners To Be Resettled Locally
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, says he is ‘disappointed’ by the new Justice Minister’s failure to revisit the resettlement provision for Dorset prisoners.
Mr Underhill said today, he would continue lobbying the Ministry of Justice for HMP’s Portland and Guys Marsh to be used to hold prisoners from the county.
In a letter to Mr Underhill dated 30th November 2015, Michael Gove MP, stated that whilst he appreciated the Commissioner’s concerns regarding the allocation of Portland as a resettlement prison for Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, the numbers of Dorset prisoners does not in itself justify a Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) presence from Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall to be based within HMP Portland.
The MoJ decision to designate the resettlement prisons to Contract Package Areas came into effect in 2014, meaning those convicted in Dorset are sent to prisons outside of the county such as HMP Exeter or HMP Channings Wood. Those serving sentences over 12 months are then only moved to a resettlement prison three months before the end of their time in custody.
Mr Underhill said: “I am very disappointed with the Minister’s refusal to look again at this matter. I do not agree with the Minister saying the number of Dorset prisoners does not justify a Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) presence from Devon, Cornwall and Dorset to be based within either Portland or Guys Marsh. A prison has to be close to a prisoner’s community to support family links and to allow “through the gate” services such as housing and employment opportunities. This joins up the geography of the prison estate with community provision so voluntary sector organisations deliver care that reflects the prisoners local needs.”
The PCC has been lobbying the Ministry of Justice for more than two years, for Dorset prisons to hold Dorset prisoners. The Commissioner is particularly concerned regarding what this will mean for reducing re-offending as inmates are placed miles away from their support networks.
Mr Underhill added: “Getting prison leavers properly reintegrated back into the community helps to prevent them from offending again. Housing, education, work and strong family ties are so important as they can help ex-offenders to choose a life away from crime.”