Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt outlines payment-by-results plan to tackle reoffending

6 March 2012

Crispin Blunt, Minister for Prisons, attended the Social Market Foundation’s annual justice conference on March 6, where he gave a speech detailing the government’s progress on introducing payment by results in the criminal justice system.

At the half day event held at the British Academy, Crispin Blunt set out how a payment by results model can achieve a reduction in the levels of crime and reoffending. He discussed the policy problem this will address, the issues which will need to be solved before any successful implementation, and how pilots can provide answers of how to achieve this.

Mr Blunt said: “The case for changing the way we do things is clear, and in the current economic conditions, unarguable. We need to extract maximum value from every pound we spend. I believe that payment by results provides a potential solution.”

Crispin-SMF-conference.jpgThe Minister told an audience of criminal justice professionals, policymakers, academics and the media that by moving away from a centralised system, the payments by results model transfers the financial risk from the government to providers, who, he said, will have clear financial incentives to ensure reoffending is reduced.

He continued: “The wider impact [of payment by results] will be far reaching – substantial social and economic benefits through reduced crime, and rehabilitated offenders adopting a more purposeful and worthwhile lifestyle.”

Crispin Blunt admitted that “paying for real outcomes is absolutely the right approach, but… we do not yet know how best to make this happen. Hence our programme of pilots.”  The minister described the three different models of payment by results currently being tested in three prisons (Doncaster, Leeds and Peterborough).

The Minister also discussed the latest pilot project, soon to get underway at HMP High Down, which will test a new model based on financial incentives rather than risk transfer. “This pilot will test a radically different approach, which allows us to shift the focus of the public sector onto delivery of outcomes, without needing to draw in external finance.”

The Minister also highlighted the Government’s imminent announcement on the reform of probation services, and invited ideas and suggestions about how to incorporate the principles of the payment by results model into further offender service provision.

Other speakers at the event, which was sponsored by Avanta, included Paul McDowell of Nacro, Tom Gash of the Institute for Government and Vicky O’Dea of Serco in Doncaster. The event was chaired by Ian Mulheirn, Director of the SMF and author of the SMF’s publication Prison Break, which sets out a blueprint for prison reform.

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