The Offender Rehabilitation Act comes into force

04 Feb 2015

The Secretary of State for Justice has signed a commencement order that brings the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) into force. This marks another significant step in implementing the government’s probation reforms.

On 1 February 2015 the Act brought the following key changes:

- offenders serving more than 1 day but less than 12 months will be released on licence for the second half of their sentence
- post-sentence supervision will top up the licence period so that overall, every offender serving less than two years will receive 12 months of supervision in the community after release. For example, a 10-month sentence will see the offender serve 5 months in prison, 5 months on licence and 7 months supervision
- a new process for magistrates’ courts to deal with breaches during the post-sentence supervision period, giving them a range of sanctions – including up to 14 days in custody but also fines, unpaid work and curfews
- a new drug appointment requirement for offenders who are supervised in the community after release. Drug testing extends to Class B as well as Class A drugs
- a new rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR) for community orders and suspended sentences, replacing the ‘supervision’ and ‘activity’ requirements
- a requirement for offenders serving a community order or suspended sentence to get permission before changing address.

The most significant change the ORA makes is to extend statutory supervision after release to the 45,000 offenders a year who are released from short prison sentences of less than 12 months. Previously, most of this group did not receive statutory supervision after release from prison.

These offenders have the highest reoffending rates of any group. Almost 60% of adult offenders released from short prison sentences in the year to March 2013 went on to reoffend within the next 12 months: a total of 16,719 re-offenders committing 85,047 further offences. The National Audit Office has estimated that the total cost to the economy of crime committed by recent ex-prisoners was between £9.5bn - £13bn. Of this, the cost of crime committed by offenders released from short prison sentences accounted for around £7bn - £10bn a year.

On 1 February 2015, along with the provisions of the ORA coming in to force, Sodexo Justice Services took ownership of, and began running, our CRC.


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