The problem

Reoffending is a blight on the UK. Damaging, disruptive and enormously costly, it wastes potential, fractures families and communities, and costs the UK billions of pounds every year. And, to a large extent, it’s preventable.


  • 46% of adult prisoners are reconvicted within 12 months of their release.
  • 60% of prisoners serving less than 12 months are reconvicted within a year.
  • Reoffending cost the UK taxpayer £15 bn in 2015 – in detecting, sentencing and imprisoning offenders who have already been through the system at least once.
  • The crimes committed by reoffenders profoundly impact the lives of their victims – in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing, and financial cost.
  • Prison damages the families of prisoners – leading to social and financial pressures, and to disproportionately high levels of offending among offenders’ children.

The men and women who leave our prison system need to be equipped to reintegrate with the outside world and begin making a positive contribution to society – working in jobs and paying taxes, supporting their families, fulfilling their potential, and avoiding the mistakes of their past.

All too often this is not what happens. Instead they return to an unchanged lifestyle and fall back on precisely the behaviours and relationships that led to their original imprisonment. They may also face greater challenges in gaining employment and family and social pressures that have been worsened by their absence.

Unlocked aims to change this. Prison officers, as the individuals with the most contact with prisoners, can be key influencers. Their interventions and support, if properly targeted, can help prisoners to turn their lives around. Unlocked is all about attracting innovative leaders into the prison service to apply fresh thinking and new ideas that help prisoners to make better, more positive choices.