SOME of the country's top justice figures will meet in Hampshire today to discuss innovative ways to reduce reoffending ahead of a dramatic overhaul of the probation service.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes is holding a one-day conference in Winchester focusing on new ideas and structures on reducing reoffending following the government's Transforming Rehabilitation strategy - one of the biggest changes of offender management ever taken in the UK.

The Reducing Reoffending: Transforming Rehabilitation conference takes place at Winchester Guildhall and will feature a 17-strong panel to discuss the potential impact of the strategy.

The three panel discussions will focus on the policy perspective driving reform, the delivery perspective, and the community perspective.

Panellists include the High Sheriff of Hampshire Rupert Younger, Steve Brine MP for Winchester and Chandler's Ford, who is a member of the Justice Select Committee, Greg Berman, director of the Center of Court Innovation in New York, and Anthony Salz, executive vice-chairman of Rothschild.

Mr Hayes said: “The Government's Transforming Rehabilitation proposals raise a number of significant questions and concerns from organisations involved in offender management.

“With an apparent lack of evidence on how these proposals will work in practice, I - like so many others - fear the impact of imposing these changes at such a fast pace.

“The conference could play a critical role in bringing together experts from all aspects of offender management to discuss and debate how we reduce and managing reoffending through partnership working through this time of change and continue to deliver positive results in this area.

”Successfully delivering the government's strategy will play a critical role in protecting people and places, so I sincerely hope that discussions and the resulting recommendations from the conference will be considered by those responsible for developing national policy.”

Mr Younger added: “I am delighted to be working with Simon Hayes, our Police and Crime Commissioner, on this important initiative for Hampshire.

“The Winchester conference creates a unique forum where international, national and local perspectives engaged in reducing re-offending can be shared and debated.

“I am particularly pleased that we have secured such eminent speakers from the UK and elsewhere, and look forward to what I know will be an engaging and enlightening conference”.