HM Prisons and Probation Service spent over £4 billion in 2018-19. Its budget was reduced by a fifth in the first half of the decade. Later increases were partly cancelled out by inflation, but the resource budget rose by 4% in 2018-19.
Prisons must invest in security and the estate to combat steep declines in safety and conditions. The probation service must undertake another costly restructure and cut stubbornly high reoffending rates. Changes to sentencing and large increases in the prison population – already among the highest in western Europe – would exacerbate these pressures and cost billions.
Penal and probation policies carry huge social consequences, and budgets are tight. It is vital that spend is dictated by evidence of what works and that value for money is achieved.