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Talks move crime village' a step closer

PUBLISHED: 16:54 21 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:55 16 August 2010

PLANS to create a radical village community for criminals have been discussed with the government during a ground-breaking meeting.

PLANS to create a radical 'village' community for criminals have been discussed with the government during a ground-breaking meeting.

Bobby Cummines, chief executive of UNLOCK, a charity which helps ex-offenders, held talks with Crispin Blunt MP, the prisons and probation minister to discuss plans for his £48million 'Diamond project'.

He is now planning to fly to Spain next week to discuss the outcome with private investors as the government considers his idea after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke called for a 'rehabilitation revolution' to stop overcrowded prisons

If given the go-ahead it would see a 28-acre site, preferably in Kent or south-east London, developed to incorporate all criminal justice agencies on one site alongside everyday facilities such as shops and community facilities, offering work-based courses to stop prisoners re-offending.

Those sentenced to less than a year in prison could be housed and educated at the facility, as revealed in the Timeslast week.

The penal reformer had arranged to meet Mr Clarke on Wednesday but instead discussed plans with Mr Blunt at the House of Commons.

Mr Cummines said: "He really scrutinised the idea because but made it clear this government want to tackle the causes of crime, rehabilitate offenders and not put a strain on our under pressure prison system.

"He was really down to earth and I had a lot of respect for him when I left the meeting.

"We discussed the rate of re-offending and how rehabilitation needed to be better. Ultimately he wants a plan that will work, benefits the community and is value for the taxpayers' pound.

"It cannot be entirely privately funded so I need to speak to the investors and look at ways of making this a public private partnership.

"The meeting was very positive and I hope something will come out of this plan.

Mr Clarke is expected to be briefed on the outcome of the meeting and Mr Cummines is to report back to the government after he holds meetings with the potential investors.

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