Thousands of offenders working in Britain are being eased back to work to help to break the cycle of crime.
Nearly 4,000 ex-criminals were assisted into employment after a major effort to accelerate employment and reduce crime was launched.
A year after the creation of employment advisory committees – which link company heads to prisons to advise on job skills – the number of former criminals returned to duty six weeks after release has almost halved.
To give the plan another push, Greggs has become the latest household name to sign up, joining the likes of TalkTalk and Lotus Cars to help governors ensure offenders are ready for work when they walk through the gate of the prison.
The Government is now on track to send out signals to all 91 ‘resettlement’ prisons by spring 2023, 50 of which are already in use in England and Wales.
This will play a vital role in addressing the £18 billion annual cost of repeat offenses and protecting the public, leaving ex-offenders with permanent jobs nine percentage points less likely to commit further crimes.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Justice Minister 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.”
Meanwhile, Roisin Currie, Chief Executive Officer of 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 White Paper on Prisons published last December, the Government has promised to invest £200 million a year to reduce reaction time by 2023, including employment plans for people released from prison.
One of the fastest growing fields of work for ex-offenders is employment advisory committees:
46 employment centres have been established in areas of deprivation of liberty, which reflect employment centres in the community. Through the centres, inmates can receive career counselling, receive help with resumes, and inquire about jobs posted on job boards.
In partnership with the New Futures Network, the National Prison Service Group, 71 recruitment managers have been appointed to manage immigration prison work programs. They serve as a point of contact between prisons and employers and can refer prisoners based on their skills and experience to interviews with employers who have vacancies.
Ex-offenders work in a variety of fields, including construction, retail, hospitality and manufacturing, helping inmates turn their backs on crime and fill labour market gaps in businesses of all sizes.
Greggs has seen huge benefits from employing prison graduates, 120 of whom have been hired by the company since 2012.
A survey commissioned by the Department of Justice found that more than 90% of companies that employ ex-offenders said they were reliable, good at their jobs, punctual and trustworthy.