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News - 17 December 2005

Business supports rehabilitation of ex-offenders

The CBI has welcomes the Green Paper aimed at reducing re-offending through greater education and skills training. Employers are increasingly willing to employ ex-offenders who wish to work and contribute to society.

Sir Digby Jones, Director-General of the CBI, said, "Far too much crime is committed by habitual re-offenders. Better education and skills training with a strong focus on finding work are key steps towards reducing re-offending.

"But it is essential there is greater unity between what happens inside and outside the prison walls. If rehabilitation and reintegration into society begin only when a prisoner is released then we can expect continued re-offending.

"Many companies are already involved in the successful rehabilitation, resettlement and training of offenders. The private and voluntary sectors should be given the opportunity to extend this work throughout the criminal justice system.

"The Government's proposals to address re-offending are welcome, especially in the face of record prison numbers, but they must ensure existing public sector monopolies do not prevent the use of effective solutions offered by different sectors."

In Brighton & Hove the Business Crime Reduction Partnership runs a scheme to remove persistent offenders from the streets and guide them through a rehabilitation process. The results of this project have been quite significant. Terry Davis, crime manager for the BCRP says, “We have removed 20 of the most prolific offenders from the street sof Brighton. These are people who need to fund a drug habit that costs them around £36,000 a year. They do it through shoplifting. And to make £36,000 on the black market they need to steal goods with a retail value closer to £100,000. So by removing 20 of these people Brighton businesses can look forward to an extra £2 million in their collective tills”

Sir Digby believes that education is the long-term solution to the problem, "The key to successful employer involvement is to provide better education and training in prisons and then support employers and ex-offenders in dealing with the transition to employment and life outside."

The evidence that education is clearly a missing ingredient is strong:

* Half of male prisoners and more than two-thirds of female adult prisoners have no education qualifications.

* More than half of all prisoners only reach the education level expected of an 11-year-old in reading, writing and maths.

* More than half of all prisoners are re-convicted within two years of release.

· Examples of private sector involvement in offender management include drug intervention; finance and debt advice; mental healthcare; drug and alcohol schemes; accommodation solutions; family learning and support; and a range of skills programmes.

Read related items on:
Anti-social behaviour
Business Crime Reduction Partnership
Business Crime Reduction Partnership

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