++The government could save at least £1billion a year by doubling the number of former prisoners in work or training++
Analysis by Unlocked Graduates, a charity which is recruiting top quality university leavers to join a two year programme to become prison officers, shows that out of the approximately 56,000 prisoners who are released from custody every year, only 4 in 10 – or 24,000 – end up in employment, education or training.
The government’s own official figures show that former prisoners are 7.5 percentage points less likely toreoffend if they were in work. Given the cost of reoffending by former prisoners to the economy is £15bn per year or just under £600,000 per reoffender, the government could, at a conservative estimate, save £1bn every year if just 1,800 fewer prisoners reoffended.
The statistics are published in the same week as the Work and Pensions Select Committee published the Government’s response to its report on the support for ex-offenders leaving prison. The initial suggestions indicate that the Government is looking at a number of options, including reducing National Insurance contributions, to incentivise employers to take on ex-offenders leaving prison.
Natasha Porter, the CEO of Unlocked Graduates, said:
“There are a number of reasons why former prisoners reoffend but it is clear is that when these men and women are in work, they are less likely to commit another crime.
“Supporting prisoners into work has the potential to save the taxpayer huge amounts of money every year. Work will also offer former prisoners the chance to reintegrate into society, giving them a chance to start over.
“While employment offers former prisoners the opportunity to reintegrate back into society, education is the gateway which gives them a real chance of finding work when they leave prison. With such clear evidence about the importance of work in reducing reoffending it is critical that we find ways to improve access to education as well. Unlocked Graduates will be tasked with doing exactly this, having a chance to reverse this worrying trend while improving the life chances of former prisoners and their families.”
Unlocked Graduates was launched before Christmas and the application scheme was opened on 9th January for the first cohort of graduates who will begin working in prisons in August. To date over 1,000 graduates have begun the application process to join the scheme. Participants will be selected on the basis of not only their academic credentials, but also their leadership and communications skills. Existing prison officers will act as mentors for the participants.
According to former prisoners who now work with Tempus Novo, a charity set up by prison officers to work with those who reoffend, having a job completely turned their lives around.
Richard Welsh, 27, who served 3 years, but had been in and out of prison prior to that, said:
“My job has stopped me from committing crime, otherwise I would have gone straight back in. I would have stopped earlier if I had had an opportunity to get a job before. Now I feel good, I feel positive because I have a wage coming in. I’ve even been through some training on the job already to get an opportunity for promotion.”
Paul Clough, 53, a former prisoner who served nine years, said:
“The main thing I found with working is that it gives you something to do. It gives you a purpose, if you come out with nothing to do, it’s hard to find direction. It’s hard enough coming out of prison and readjusting, but a job helps with that.”
Notes to editors
About Unlocked Graduates
Unlocked is a two-year leadership programme specifically aimed at encouraging the brightest and the best graduates to become prison officers. The programme is aimed at raising the status of the profession by attracting a different kind of leader to work in prisons and help identify ways to reform the prison system, reduce reoffending and improve rehabilitation. Participants will work alongside and be mentored by existing officers and will receive a Master’s degree on completion of the programme. After the two years, graduates can either continue their career in the prison service or become advocates for the scheme and rehabilitation in general in their future jobs.
Unlocked Graduates is supported in its incubation state by Catch22, the social business, so that it can become a successful independent organisation.
– Unlocked Graduates used the Ministry of Justice Proven Reoffending Statistics, April 2014-March 2015 to find the number of individuals leaving prison during the most recent year for which data is available. We have controlled for those who reoffended and left prison within the same year to avoid double counting. Including adult and juvenile offenders, 56,437 people left prison.
– According to analysis in the NOMS Annual Report 2014/15: Management Information Addendum, the proportion of prisoners leaving prison with an education or training opportunity is 16.1 per cent and the proportion of prisoners leaving prison with an employment outcome is 26.5 per cent – 42.6 percent in total. This means that we can estimate that of those that left prison, 24,042 went into work or training.
– Evidence from the Ministry of Justice’s Analysis of the impact of employment on re-offending following release from custody, using Propensity Score Matching shows that:
o Those former prisoners who had served custodial sentences of less than one year and entered employment on release, had a reoffending rate that was 9.4 percentage points lower than those prisoners who did not enter employment.
o For sentences of one year or more, prison entering employment after release had areoffending rate of 5.6 percentage points lower than those who did not enter employment.
We used a midpoint of 7.5 percentage points for a reduction in reoffending due to employment. This is likely to underestimate the impact that an increase in numbers of former prisoners in employment and education has as it isolates for just this factor.
The Government’s own figures say that if you allow for such other factors the chance of reoffendingis up to 37 per cent lower for those that have a job on release
– From this evidence, we were able to infer that doubling numbers in employment and education would lead to preventing an additional 1,803 former prisoners from reoffending.
– The latest Government estimates suggest that the cost of reoffending by former prisoners to the economy is £15bn per year. This amounts to £589,066 per reoffender – a saving of £1,062,085,998 per year if 1,803 fewer prisoners reoffended.