Criminals who leave prison with a job, accommodation and bank account are less likely to reoffend, according to research by the think tank set up by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said linking prisoners up with an employer, ensuring they did not end up rough sleeping or sofa surfing and “simple” support such as ensuring they could get to work and had a bank account, slashed reoffending rates.
One approach, established by charity Tempus Novo, sees prisoners mentored for 12 months to help them find and hold down a job. Some 65 per cent of the prisoners they work with were in employment after a year, compared with the national average of 17 per cent.
Only 4.6 per cent of the prisoners they supported ended up back in prison after two years compared with national reoffending rates of 39 per cent after 12 months.
Emily Farley, the CSJ’s head of criminal justice, said: “It’s not just about finding someone a job, it’s about making sure all of those external factors that would be very destabilising for that individual are also addressed and looked after.
“That ranges from opening a bank account to accommodation so they’re not sleeping rough or on sofas which makes it really difficult for them getting to and from work. It is about removing those invisible barriers.”
A survey of 2,000 people by the CSJ found more than eight in 10 people (85 per cent) said prisoners should be provided with a job on release. Three quarters (76 per cent) said they would be comfortable working with someone who had a criminal record.
‘They should be treated with real potential’
Andy Cook, chief executive of CSJ, said: “In prisons, you’ve got a set of people in waiting which is helpful in an employment market that’s getting off the ground.
“Number two, you’ve got a group who are resilient, sharp, good front of house people. They’ve actually got some real character to them. They’ve gone down the wrong path, but they’ve got some oomph to them. They shouldn’t just be treated as problems but with real potential.
“Thirdly, you’ve got a group of people who become incredibly loyal. If they come and work for you, there’s a kind of real connection and commitment to your business.”
According to the Ministry of Justice, three out of four people would be comfortable buying from a business that employs ex-offenders, while 86 per cent of employers of former prisoners rated them as good at their job.
James Timpson, the chief executive of the Timpson Group, which has pioneered the employment of prisoners, said: “With a criminal record it’s hard to secure work, but we find that “returning citizens” are the most loyal, honest and hard-working colleagues of all.”