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Rehabilitation Devolution – how localising justice can reduce crime and imprisonment

Rob Allen
12 Dec 2015

In 2015, the election of a new government gave impetus to the search for a more cost effective criminal justice policy. Simply slicing more off existing budgets would not work. Prison performance and safety had already suffered drastically, so further economies would need to be achieved by reducing demand on the system. New mechanisms for organising and paying for criminal justice would be needed.

This report revisits the case for justice reinvestment made in Transform Justice’s 2014 report. It makes the case that devolving budgets to the PCC and local authority level might enable local agencies to develop more innovative and effective measures to reduce levels of crime, numbers of prosecutions and the rate of imprisonment – thereby bringing down cost in a responsible and sustainable manner.

It looks at what we can learn from the justice reinvestment initiatives in the USA, and the recent youth justice reinvestment initiative in England and Wales, both of which aim to shift resources away from the unnecessary use of criminal prosecution and imprisonment into more local, productive and cost effective ways of preventing crime and reducing reoffending. These initiatives show how a locally based approach to criminal justice has enabled experimentation and reform, involving a wide range of stakeholders from across and outside of government.

The report, written for Transform Justice by Rob Allen, indicates there is enough promise in the results of these initiatives to warrant an expansion of justice reinvestment.