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On a jail visit yesterday, the Prime Minister said the 70 percent reoffending rate was too high and that drugs must be rooted out of the penal system. He said: “We can’t be recycling young men endlessly in and out of the criminal justice system. “So that’s why we’re investing in stopping the drugs getting into prison, offering alternatives.”

Mr Johnson toured HMP Isis at Thamesmead, south east London, with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to highlight the publication of Government plans to overhaul the system and fund opportunities for prisoners’ qualifications.

Measures include new targets for governors to test for drugs and tackle addiction, as well as airport-style security for newly built jails.

Referencing £4billion of improvements, Mr Johnson added: “We’re putting more money into the prison service. We’re building another 20,000 prison places. If you’re going to fight crime in the way we are, and want to, you’ve got to recognise that tough policing is great – [but] you’ve got to have diversions for the kids, apprenticeships, job opportunities.

“We want them to come out with more qualifications and more self-esteem about their chances in the future.

“Basic English and maths and opportunities to learn things like painting and decorating, and other skills they can use – so they have a passport for their skills when they get out.”

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