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WORKING ON THE OUTSIDE

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Dan Hayes

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1 April 2019 Dan Hayes

Prisoners should have better training in prison to help them find employment on the outside, says Dan Hayes.


In Norway, only about 20 per cent of prisoners are reconvicted after leaving prison. There, the belief is prisoners should live in decent environments in which they develop skills to find paid work after release. 

 

The UK is different; almost 40 per cent of adult prisoners are reconvicted within a year of being released. For people serving sentences under 12 months, it climbs to 64 per cent. England and Wales have the highest rates of imprisonment in Western Europe.


Having a job helps people to abandon criminal behaviour and stops them reoffending. But the training available in prisons isn’t preparing people for employment in 

the outside world. 


Combine this with the stigma of a criminal record and reluctance of half of employers to give them a job and it’s no wonder that only 17 per cent are in PAYE work a year out of prison. Declare your criminal record in an application form and you are unlikely to get an interview. 


The model we have developed, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Prison Service, is called Passport into Employment. This supports prisoner rehabilitation by engaging them in improving the environment they live in while helping them to progress from vocational training into high-quality work placements alongside our teams.


We give them a reference and, because the risk test has taken place under our watch, vouch for their work and standards. This should ease them into post-prison employment with us or any of the hundreds of companies in our supply chain.


Greater change is needed in our collective mindset to realise the full benefits of this untapped and willing resource. Prison leaders need to allow prisoners to take part while industry needs to provide more opportunities to gain work experience, not just in prison FM operations, but in the other sectors we service. 


This is why we’re calling on other companies to offer opportunities to prisoners who have worked with us. 


Dan Hayes is justice solutions director at Amey