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The Offender Rehabilitation Bill [HL Bill 88 2013-14] seeks to amend the law relating to the release, and supervision after release, of offenders released from short custodial sentences. It would also make some changes to community sentences. The Bill represents the legislative parts of the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation strategy (see below). The Bill can be (broadly speaking) separated into three parts:

• The first part, which consists of clause 1 alone, concerns the MoJ’s controversial proposals for reform of the probation services. Opponents of the proposed reforms have argued, among other things, that they would create perverse incentives for new contracted providers and lead to increased risks to public protection. These were not included in the Bill as introduced as the MoJ said it would make the changes using existing powers. Clause 1, a non-Government amendment, would require any change to the structure of the “probation service” to be approved by both Houses of Parliament first.

• The second part, clauses 2-13, deals with the supervision of offenders released from short custodial sentences. All offenders released from sentences of less than two years would be subject to at least 12 months of mandatory supervision in the community. Many commentators have welcomed the proposals, but some have argued that they could lead to an increase in the use of short custodial sentences and an increase in recalls to prison.

The Bill would also put on a statutory footing the requirement to have regard to the special needs of female offenders when making supervision arrangements. It would also introduce new drug appointment requirements and expand the categories of drugs that can be tested for.

• The third part, clauses 14 -18, would amend the community sentencing framework. It would introduce a new “rehabilitation activity requirement” for community orders and suspended sentence orders and make amendments to allow private providers to be responsible officers for the supervision of offenders subject to such orders. It would also introduce a new mandatory requirement that offenders subject to such orders seek permission from their responsible officer before changing their place of residence.

Territorial extent

Most of the provisions of the Bill consist of amendments to existing legislation which applies to England & Wales only.

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