Justice Secretary: New financial crime unit to seize kingpins’ assets, disrupt prisons drugs trade

Gauke: New financial crime unit to seize kingpins’ assets, disrupt prisons drugs trade


·Reform agenda to tackle drugs and violence so rehabilitation can take root

·New construction partnership to teach skills, get offenders into jobs

·In-prison employment and training for maintenance skills

·8 new prison education providers for a total of 12 to offer diverse programmes

·£5mn for first new secure school for young offenders


Birmingham—During the Conservative Party Conference, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced a new HMPPS Financial Crime Unit that will track illicit bank transactions and freeze accounts to stop drug dealers in prison moving money around. This is part of the reform agenda tackling drugs and violence in prisons to allow a system-wide focus on rehabilitating prisoners to cut reoffending and boost support and opportunities for young offenders in custody.


Justice Secretary David Gauke said:


“My message to kingpins is this: we are already blocking your phones, putting you in isolation and now we will make sure you can’t access your money. Dealing drugs in prison will no longer be profitable because we will find your assets and we will seize them.”


Gauke also announced new measures to get more prisoners into education and employment by bringing in eight new prison education providers, to total 12 providers who can bid for contracts worth £52 million over four years. We will also begin rolling out a system-wide prison estates employment and training programme for offenders and, launching a new partnership with the construction industry, led by the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) and Lendlease to train offenders and get them into jobs.


He said:


“Getting prisoners rehabilitated will reduce crime and ensure there are fewer victims of crime in future. It will also cut the £15bn cost that reoffending has on society.


“We know that offenders are far less likely to reoffend if they have a job. That is why I launched the Education and Employment strategy, which will expand opportunities for offenders to get education and skills training, and work experience so they can get a job when they get out.


Gauke stressed that rehabilitation of young offenders is crucially important and announced £5 million to create the first Secure School, placing education and healthcare at the heart of youth custody. These will be run by not for profit academy trusts with expertise in the youth custody sector. The application and selection process for the provider of the first Secure School will be launched later this month. We intend to construct more purpose-built secure schools in the coming years.


Also across the youth estate, over the next two years we will provide up to £2.6 million for governors in the Youth Custody Service to purchase additional educational and vocational programmes, and we are expanding the highly successful Unlocked graduate scheme into the youth estate, bringing even more talented and motivated staff to our frontline.


David Gauke concluded:


“We need offenders to make the right choice, to reject a life of criminality and choose to work, accept responsibility and be part of society. Reforming the way that we get offenders to do that is my mission, and what I hope defines me as Justice Secretary.”


“Together this package of reforms and investment will crack down on the drugs and violence in prisons, further support offenders in turning their backs on crime and, crucially, help young offenders find a path out of criminality into education and responsibility.


“The problems won’t be solved overnight.  But if we refuse to be deflected, if we stay focused on our vision, if we are driven by the evidence and prepared to be bold, if we are willing to embrace reform, this is an agenda that can turn round lives. And that is what we will deliver.”


Prisons reform agenda announcements:


1.         Tackling drugs and violence -- HMPPS Financial Crime Unit

•                     The unit will investigate evidence of prisoners using external bank accounts to pay for drugs.

•                     Data analysis of prison intelligence will be used to identify common or significant bank accounts being used to launder money, allowing the unit to build a profile of the prisoners connected to them.

•                     The unit will then be able to act against those involved, with sanctions ranging from the closure of accounts, to freezing assets or more significant criminal sanctions such as Confiscation Orders and arrest.

•                     By removing the incentive we will remove the drivers of illicit activity, a crucial step in restoring order to prisons and ensuring that criminal gangs cannot reap the benefits of the prison drugs trade.

•                     This adds to existing measures implemented to hinder criminal activity in prison, including an additional £40m investment announced over the summer to improve safety and security, as well as improving the fabric of the estate. Included in this was a new £1m digital tool helping to identify, disrupt and disable gangs. Meanwhile, more than 3,500 extra prison officers have been recruited and will have a central role to play in efforts to tackle gangs and contraband behind bars.

•                     The Financial Crime Unit will be based in Peterborough and will be operational from October 2018.


2.         Rehabilitating offenders through education and employment

•           In May we published the Education and Employment strategy which will ensure prison education and work are geared towards employment on release from the outset.

•           October 2nd marks launch of the New Futures Network, which will broker partnerships between employers and prisons to set prisoners on a path to employment. The first three areas – Tees and Wear, Yorkshire and Wales – begin work this month.

•           We have created a formal partnership with the construction industry which will fill skills gaps, help more prisoners do a working day during their sentence – in custody and on release on temporary license (ROTL) – and find work on release.

•           As part of our commitment to empower Governors, we have recently appointed 8 new providers to the new Prison Education Framework, alongside the 4 currently delivering education. When contracts, worth £520mn over 4 years, have been awarded, Governors will be able to choose their providers from a pre-approved list, giving them the power and budget to tailor education and training to the needs of their prisoners. The providers are: Milton Keynes College, Seetec Business Technology Centre Ltd, Sodexo Justice Services, PeoplePlus Group Ltd, Novus (LTE Group (Trading as Novus)), Ixion Holdings (Contracts) Ltd, Reed in Partnership , Weston College of Further and Higher Education, Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education, Novus/Nacro Partnership (LTE Group), Management & Training Corporation (UK) Ltd, and APM.


3.         New concept secure school and extra support for young offenders

•           We are delivering on our commitment to put education at heart of youth custody and build on our reforms to the youth justice system, which are already well under way.

•           By investing £5 million, we will ensure this new and unique approach to education will combine the ethos and practice of schools with the structure and support of secure children’s homes.

•           Secure Schools will have child-focused and creative providers, strong leaders with freedom and autonomy, and a specialised workforce - putting education, healthcare and purposeful activity at the heart of rehabilitation.