Dual-sentencing system in question

Doubts are emerging over whether the government will launch a combined custodial and community sentencing system for young adults later this year.

Speculation is growing over whether Custody Plus, which was due to be launched in November and affects offenders aged 18 to 21, will be delayed because of the cost.

Patricia Best, who is based in the National Offender Management System directorate, told a conference in London last week there were “concerns about having enough resources for the plus factor”.

Talks within government recently indicated the programme may be introduced incrementally, she told the Howard League for Penal Reform conference.

Fears have already been raised that Custody Plus, which would see every offender assigned a worker to oversee their sentence, could lead to huge increases in the prison population.

Howard League director Frances Crook said last week Custody Plus could be “incredibly seductive” to courts. But she added that the government was likely to struggle to fund an expected rise in the prison population.

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