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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

City firms pledge to employ ex-offenders as prisons minister calls on bosses to ‘break cycle’

Business chiefs, including from telecoms giant TalkTalk and construction firm Murphy, have pledged to employ hundreds of ex-offenders.

The prisons minister will today urge City bosses to put their weight behind a government scheme to help prisoners back into work upon release.

“Getting prison leavers into steady jobs is a win-win. It cuts crime and makes the public safer – and also provides the reliable staff businesses need to drive the British economy,” Victoria Atkins will tell conference attendees.

Ministers hope to see employment advisory boards, linking jails to employers, operational at all 91 resettlement prisons in England and Wales by spring 2023.

Atkins is to urge employers to help “break the cycle” of reoffending, at a conference hosted by Timpson’s chief James Timpson, in partnership with the government’s New Futures Network. In an opinion column for CityA.M. today, Atkins said the government “wouldn’t ask businesses to do something we are not doing ourselves” and was planning to hire 1,000 prison leavers into civil service roles.

She called on more firms to get involved in “protecting the public through unlocking better lives for ex-offenders seeking a second chance.” “I am determined to see barriers removed so businesses can hire more prison leavers who want to turn around their lives,” Atkins added. Murphy Group CEO John Murphy also chairs the employment advisory board at HMP Berwyn, in Wrexham, Wales.

“By sharing our practical business experience with prison colleagues, we are supporting prisoners to get the rights skills and advice so they are job ready on release,” he said. Prison leavers had “proven to be valuable members of our team, Murphy said.

Speaking to CityA.M., Eve Hamilton, founder and CEO of charity Key4Life, said: “We believe companies have a crucial role to play in helping provide jobs for ex-offenders, as having a job is the key to helping prevent them from falling back into a life of crime.”

The charity has been encouraging companies to hire ex-offenders as well as helping individuals back into the world of work. Hamilton added: “However, providing jobs for ex-offenders is not a quick win, it does require a well thought out approach, and aftercare and support are of critical importance in helping young men to transition into employment. It’s important to have a safety net in place.”

After leaving prison in 1999, Lee Wakeman now runs a Manchester-based bakery that employs ex-offenders, called HM Pasties.

He said: “Getting a job changed who my role models were. Instead of my peers being people taking and dealing drugs, they became people who got up in the morning, went out to work and saved money for cars, holidays and clothes.”

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