Transforming rehabilitation agenda – why is resettlement so important?

Improving the development of positive life skills for offenders is central to successfully preventing further offences being committed. The significant role that personal issues such as substance misuse, living arrangements and education, training and employment play in changing the attitudes and behaviours of offenders is strongly evidenced. All are central to ensuring the effective resettlement of offenders both in the community and in custody. However previous research has long highlighted insufficiencies in the provision of resettlement services and support for offenders.

Chris Grayling’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ agenda sets out to develop a system that not only delivers a punitive approach to offending behaviour but also one that seeks to reduce the likelihood of further behaviour through targeted rehabilitative support. One of the most significance elements of the government’s agenda is the statutory supervision and support that is now to be provided to be those on short term sentences. Previously offenders on sentences less than 12 months received little or no intervention, accounting for the high levels of reoffending amongst this group. Attention is now been given to ensuring that adequate provision is given to addressing the factors associated with offending behaviour.

Helping offenders make positive life changes should be central to the efforts of not only statutory services but voluntary organisations. The provision of appropriate rehabilitative support, whether that be employment or training, housing provision or health related services (substance misuse, mental health), is fundamental to reducing the likelihood of reoffending. To incentivise such services in working to this agenda, the government are putting in place a payment by result mechanism – simplistically that is if you meet your targets you will get paid, if you don’t then you will receive no money. Often anecdotal evidence of effectiveness or patchy local monitoring practice must now be replaced by robust measurement structures against which services have to document their success in order for payment to be received. How this will happen in practice and how effectively the payment by results agenda will operate is still to be seen and remains the constant focus of debate. However the overall message from the transforming rehabilitation agenda should not be lost – for the criminal justice system to be effective and future offending prevented, criminal justice services must ensure that all offenders receive the support and supervision they require. Without this the spiral of offending behaviour will continue for many.

This article was written by Helen Powell contact her at

Read more about our research with offenders here.


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