Thousands of offenders in work as UK businesses help break cycle of crime

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Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab visits the new Five Wells Prison. Five Wells. Picture by Tim Hammond / No 10 Downing Street

Almost 4,000 ex-offenders have been helped into work since the launch of a major drive to increase employment and cut crime.

One year after Employment Advisory Boards were established – linking business bosses to prisons to provide advice on jobs skills – the number of former offenders in work six weeks after release has increased by nearly half.

In a further boost to the scheme, Greggs has become the latest household name to sign up – joining the likes of TalkTalk and Lotus Cars in helping governors to ensure that offenders are job-ready when they walk through the prison gate.

The government is now on track to roll out boards to all 91 ‘resettlement’ prisons by spring 2023, with 50 already up and running across England and Wales.

This will play a crucial role in tackling the £18 billion annual cost of reoffending and protecting the public, with ex-prisoners in steady employment being nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:

We’re getting more offenders into work than ever before which is key to cutting crime and making our streets safer.

Along with our work to tackle addiction, improve education and maintain vital family ties, this will set ex-offenders on a sustainable path away from crime – helping to protect the public.

Roisin Currie, Chief Executive, Greggs said:

At Greggs, we believe that by not overlooking any potential employees because of their past, we can select the right person and develop them to their full potential.

We’ve been working with people leaving prison for a number of years through our dedicated Fresh Start programme, and more recently have signed up to the Employment Advisory Board scheme to enable us to do even more.

The passion and energy for work that comes from people who are given an opportunity to kick-start their careers, or to turn their lives around is clear for all to see and as a business, we feel extremely motivated to do all we can to give these people a fresh start.

As part of the Prisons White Paper, published last December, the government has committed to investing £200 million per year on reducing reoffending by 2023, including on prison leaver employment schemes.

Employment Advisory Boards are just one area where rapid progress is being made in getting ex-offenders into work:

  • 46 Employment Hubs – which mirror Job Centres in the community – have launched in prisons. Through the Hubs, prisoners can access career advice, get help with their CV and enquire about job adverts put up on noticeboards.
  • 71 Employment Leads have been appointed to manage jobs programmes in resettlement prisons, working with the Prison Service’s national team, the New Futures Network. They act as a point of contact between the prison and employers and can put forward prisoners for interviews with employers with vacancies, based on their skills and experience.

Ex-offenders are working in a host of areas including construction, retail, catering and manufacturing, which is helping prisoners turn their backs on crime and plug labour market gaps across firms of all sizes.

Greggs has seen huge benefits from employing prison leavers, with 120 taken on by the firm since 2012.

Polling commissioned by the Ministry of Justice found that over 90 percent of businesses who employ ex-offenders said they are reliable, good at their job, punctual and trustworthy.

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