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                         THE CARTER REPORT

P Carter, Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime, December 2003.

Available online at:

Patrick Carter's independent review of correctional services was
commissioned by Home Secretary David Blunkett in March 2003.
Carter reported in December 2003, and the report was published in January
2004, along with the government's policy document which contained the
government's response to Carter:

D Blunkett, Reducing Crime, Changing Lives, Home Office, January 2004
Available on the Home Office website at:

Carter’s conclusions and proposals:

Sentencing practice has become much more severe in recent years, with
much greater use being made of prison and probation. But there is little
evidence to suggest that increased severity of punishment is a significant
deterrent to crime. Sentences are poorly targeted, with the increased use of
prison being concentrated on first-time offenders rather than serious,
dangerous and highly persistent offenders, leading to poor use of resources,
prison overcrowding, excessive probation caseloads and associated
difficulties. There is still great variation between sentencing practice in
different areas. Sentencers lack the information they need to make the most
effective use of prison and probation. A new vision is needed with a focus on
managing offenders, to reduce crime and maintain public confidence.

A National Offender Management Service (NOMS) should be established,
combining the Prison and Probation Services, headed by a Chief Executive
with a National Offender Manager and ten Regional Offender Managers who
will commission custody places, fine collection and community sentence
provision from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Targeted and rigorous sentences are needed. Judges and magistrates
need to have a full range of tough, credible and effective sentences that are
enforced. Sentences need to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the
risk of reoffending, with better targeting of serious, dangerous and persistent
offenders. Persistent offenders should receive greater sanctions and more
help to stop offending. This means:

      Diverting very low risk offenders out of the court system and punishing
       them in the community, using the provisions for conditional cautions

       contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. There should be an
       increased emphasis on ‘paying back to the community’.

      Income-related ‘day fines’ for low risk offenders, to rebuild fines as a
       credible punishment.

      There should be three levels of community sentence, based on a risk
       assessment of offenders, within the framework of the ‘generic’
       community order introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003:

       Level 1 – Community Punishment, involving the local community.
       Level 2 – Community Rehabilitation (more demanding programmes for
       medium risk offenders, tackling their assessed needs).
       Level 3 – Intensive Supervision and Monitoring for persistent
       offenders, providing greater control and surveillance, combined with
       help to reduce re-offending. This should include greater use of
       electronic tagging (including satellite tracking of offenders).

      Custody reserved for serious, dangerous and highly persistent

The new Sentencing Guidelines Council (introduced by the Criminal Justice
Act 2003) should issue comprehensive sentencing guidelines annually,
informed by evidence on what reduces offending and makes cost-effective
use of existing resources.

The benefits of competition between public, private and voluntary sector
service providers should be further extended in relation to both custodial and
non-custodial provision.

When Carter reported, numbers in custody were projected to rise from around
74,000 to 93,000 in 2009, with 300,000 under supervision. Carter believed his
proposals could cut these 2009 figures to 80,000 in custody and 240,000
under supervision. This could mostly be achieved within the legal framework
provided by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, although the day fine system
would require new primary legislation.

The government’s response to Carter was extremely positive in almost all
respects. The National Offender Management Service came into being in
June 2004. Its first Chief Executive (2004-5) was Martin Narey, previously
Commissioner for Correctional Services and Director General of the Prison
Service. The government said it would explore further the proposal for a day
fine system. Old and unsuitable prisons might be replaced by new, larger

In September 2005, Home Secretary Charles Clarke indicated that the
government had abandoned Carter’s proposed target of ‘capping’ the prison
population at 80,000 (The Guardian, 19 September 2005). The figure of
80,000 was reached in October 2006.