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13 February 2014, 06:00
Hertfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has told Heart having a prison near Hemel Hempstead as a "Resettlement Prison" is a victory in the battle against reoffending.
In future, prisoners from the county will be placed in HMP The Mount, at Bovingdon, during their final months in custody.
Commissioner Lloyd (pictured) has spearheaded a campaign over the past year that The Mount should be used to hold prisoners from Hertfordshire, rather than a prison hundreds of miles away, under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
The plan aims to rehabilitate prisoners closer to where they live. However, The Mount had been earmarked as a ‘resettlement prison’ for prisoners from London while prisoners from Hertfordshire would have been placed in a gaol (jail) in Suffolk.
Commissioner Lloyd lobbied the Ministry of Justice over the past 12 months to secure The Mount for Hertfordshire and has now been informed that his campaign has been successful.
In the future, local agencies that deal with offenders in this county will have improved access to Hertfordshire prisoners before their release date so their move from incarceration to the outside world can now be better planned and supported.
Commissioner Lloyd told Heart: “This is an excellent result for Hertfordshire. Getting prison leavers properly reintegrated back into the community is the best thing that can be done to stop them offending again.
Housing, education, work and strong community ties are paramount as they can help steer ex-offenders away from a life of crime.
Meanwhile, the authorities will also be better able to keep tabs on those prison leavers who are determined to go back to criminality.
“I will be writing to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to thank him for this decision.”
Commissioner Lloyd has been leading a group of fellow Police and Crime Commissioners in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (collectively known as the BeNCH Group) to make sure that there is a smooth transition to the Government’s new rehabilitation arrangements.
He has also been working with many organisations and groups, including the police, councils, charities and criminal justice partners, who have all shared his concerns.
Hertfordshire Chief Constable Andy Bliss, who is Chair of the Hertfordshire Criminal Justice Board, said: “We already have an excellent operational relationship with the Governor and his team at The Mount Prison. It is, therefore, great news that The Mount will become Hertfordshire’s resettlement prison as it means that there is a greater chance that offenders from Hertfordshire can be offered targeted training and support whilst in prison with a programme focused on their re-integration into the local community upon release.
The hope is that their offending will stop or be significantly reduced upon release as a result of the support they receive; where this is not the case we shall be making it clear to prisoners that our focus will be on bringing them to justice. We want prisoners to make positive choices about their future behaviour; where they don’t, the potential consequences on release will be clear.”
Steven Bradford, Governor at HMP The Mount, said: “In future, the prison will be able to better protect the local population in Hertfordshire from re-offending by former prisoners, by properly preparing them before their release into the community. This will be achieved by working much more closely with local agencies in resettling offenders.”