IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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UK: Integrated Offender Management - Effective alternatives to short sentences

4th July 2012

A recent report from Revolving Doors (UK) has outlined evidence-based strategies that reduce re-offending and reinforced the need for further use of alternatives to short custodial sentences. Integrated Offender Management involves a multi-agency approach, within prisons and the community, that focuses on offenders rather than offences.

Short-sentence prisoners (serving less than 12 months) often experience high levels of homelessness, substance misuse, poverty, debt and mental illness. These issues lead to a cycles of crisis and crime, and short prison sentences leave little time for meaningful engagement with prison-based support services. Short-term prison sentences are also more expensive and lead to more re-offending than community-based sanctions.   

Integrated Offender Management (IOM) was piloted in six sites across England in 2009 and involves joined-up approaches and sometimes co-location of services from prisons, police, probation, local housing authorities, and health services. For example, Manchester’s IOM scheme, Spotlight, recorded an 86% drop in re-offending among Prolific and other Priority Offenders who were provided with free accommodation upon release from short prison sentences – reporting an 11-fold return on the investment cost.

Full report available here: Integrated Offender Management

Irish context:

  • 70% of sentenced committals in 2009 were for 6 months or less. Significant numbers of those who are sent to prison are committed there for non-violent offences such as fine default. Irish prisons are chronically overcrowded, and many prisoners who are sent to prison could be dealt with using non-custodial means. 
  • 60% of people serving sentences for 6 months or less are poor, and are often homeless people.
  • As a key strategic goal for IPRT, we aim to promote the embedding and extension of the principle that detention should only be used as a last resort and believe that the best way of limiting the use of imprisonment in Ireland is the development of an integrated system of alternatives to custody.

Read more:

IPRT press release on Community Service Order legislation

IPRT Shifting Focus campaign

Key Issues