Not a single ex-inmate employed within six weeks of release from Grendon prison

Prisons 'don't prepare people for the real world', says reform charity.

Monday, 21st September 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Monday, 21st September 2020, 12:10 pm
Not a single ex-inmate employed within six weeks of release from Grendon prison

Not a single ex-inmate is in employment within six weeks of being released from Grendon prison or Aylesbury prison, new figures reveal.

Prison reform charity The Howard League said jails across England and Wales are "turning out toddlers" with offenders unable to learn basic life skills behind bars, leaving many struggling to find or keep jobs on the outside.

Ministry of Justice data shows no prisoners released from HMP Grendon/Spring Hill were employed within six weeks between October 1 last year and March 31 this year.

That was well below the prison's target of ​16.8% for the period.

The figures come from annual statistics which review the performance of prisons on a range of measures, with targets set locally and nationally.

Across England and Wales just five prisons achieved their targets, making employment within six weeks one of the poorest performing measures.

Frances Crook, chief executive of The Howard League, warned such targets can be problematic, as many ex-prisoners struggle to retain jobs when they get them.

She said: "There is a huge effort to get people a job on release from prison.

"But more than 80% of prisoners are not employed in a PAYE (pay as you earn) job one year on. The reason is because prisons don't prepare people for the real world.

"It's basic life skills such as getting yourself up in the morning, having a shower and some breakfast and being work ready, that prisoners are not capable of.

"They are turning out toddlers."

She added that some inmates learning skilled work behind bars are not doing long enough hours to prepare them for a real job on release.

Within a new White Paper, revealing a planned overhaul of sentencing laws in England and Wales, the Government set out a new strategy to reduce reoffending with a focus on improving employment and accommodation for ex-offenders, and combating substance misuse.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of social justice charity Nacro, which works with people in and leaving prison, said many people are released without having "meaningful training" or a home to go to.

"Add to that a criminal record, which holds them back from employment opportunities for years to come", he added.

"We are hopeful that the Government’s commitment this week to strengthening prison education, focusing on work-based training and skills will deliver real change."

A Prison Service spokesman said: "Broadening access to training and work is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and keep the public safe.

“We already work with around 400 employers who provide opportunities to offenders, and we are reducing the time certain convictions stay on someone’s criminal record to allow those who have turned their backs on crime a fair chance of employment.”