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Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Rob Owen: Mentors will save future crime victims

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When someone who has served less than 12 months in prison is freed, they walk out with little support and 57% of them then go on to re-offend.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will say that he wants many of them to be met at the prison gates by a mentor - someone who may be a former offender - to help them reintegrate into society.

The people who run the service will only be paid if that former prisoner does not re-offend.

A pilot project of the scheme has been run by the St Giles Trust. Its chief executive, Rob Owen, told the Today programme they were "thrilled by this announcement".

"We've been pioneering it for the last 10 years," he said.

"I think it will go on to save the taxpayers millions of pounds and, more importantly, will save thousands of future victims of crime," he said.

Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, says that this is a good answer to the wrong question.

"Most of these people shouldn't have been in prison in the first place," she said.

"If we can put in place this sort of scheme to people before they go to prison, then that would be much better than trying to scoop up the problems afterwards."


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