The Challenge Back to top
Reoffending is a blight on the UK. It wastes potential, fractures families and communities, and costs us billions of pounds every year. And, to a large extent, it’s preventable.
Fixing prisons is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. Around half of adult prisoners are reconvicted within a year of release. Reoffending costs the taxpayer £18.1 billion every year. This is the total cost of detecting, sentencing and imprisoning people who have already been through the system.
But the price to be paid goes far beyond the financial cost. The crimes committed by people who are reoffending profoundly impact the lives of their victims. The families of prisoners also suffer – the children of prisoners are more likely to be sucked into a life of crime themselves. And prisoners and ex-prisoners alike have a disproportionately high risk of drug addiction, self-harm, homelessness, and suicide.
The prison population includes some of the most vulnerable and challenging members of society. They are more likely to have spent time in care as a child – as well as to have witnessed and experienced physical abuse, substance misuse, and mental health problems. They are less likely to have attained minimum standards in education, or to have held down a job.
Unlocked is working to change this. Prison officers have more contact with prisoners than any other professionals, and so have the power to make a real difference. Prisoners tell us that prison officers’ interventions and support, if properly targeted, can help turn lives around. Unlocked wants innovative leaders to join the prison service; to bring fresh thinking and new ideas to reform prisons; and help prisoners make better, more positive choices and prepare for life outside prison.