Youth reoffending must be tackled to stop young people becoming “the prolific career criminals of tomorrow”, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said.
A radically different approach is needed to improve a criminal justice system that “falls short of what is required”, Mr Clarke said.
Launching the Government’s Green Paper on sentencing, he said the Government “must give higher priority to getting more prisoners to go straight on release”.
The Green Paper marks a change in policy that will “put more emphasis on reducing reoffending without reducing the punishment of offenders”, Mr Clarke said.
“By reforming criminals and turning them away from a life of crime we will break the cycle. This will mean fewer crimes, fewer victims and safer communities.”
Community sentences will be made “more credible with more demanding work and greater use of tough curfew requirements”, he said.
Payment by results will be brought in to at least six projects over the next two years, with a “revolutionary shift in the way rehabilitation is financed and delivered”. This approach will also be trialled with young offenders, with more responsibility for preventing and tackling youth offending given to local communities.
The sentencing framework will be simplified “to make it more comprehensible to the public and to enhance judicial independence”. Issuing more fines will be encouraged and the way they are collected will be improved, he said.
The abuse of drugs and alcohol will be tackled, and treatment for those suffering mental illness will also be improved.
Controversial indefinite sentences for the public protection, widely criticised as a mistake by prison reform campaigners, will be restricted for only the most serious offenders.