In response to the Prisons Strategy White Paper, ERSA welcomes the increased spending and focus on education, skills and employment support for prisoners throughout their sentences.

The promises of a new Prisoner Education Service, more opportunities for work whilst in prison and on Release on Temporary Licence, Resettlement Passports, and the chance to engage with a DWP Prison Work Coach are all encouraging steps that could potentially go some of the way to address long withstanding issues within the criminal justice system.

As only 14% of prison leavers are in employment six months following release, the willingness to build stronger links with employers, particularly those with skills shortages, will hopefully increase job prospects for prison leavers and help them into stable employment following their release.

Furthermore, the rollout of ‘Employment Hubs’ and dedicated Employment Advisers, in a more digitalised and technologically advanced prison, will upskill prisoners and could help tackle skill gaps in local areas upon their release.

However, the promise of an investment of £200 million a year by 2024-25, some of which will go towards employment support, is nothing compared to the £4 billion being spent into expanding the already over-crowded prison population by 18,000 people.

Despite this, many of the proposals made in the White Paper are promising and we hope, on behalf of ERSA members, that they are delivered with the right amount of funding and support to be successful.

Further information:

MP Sally-Ann Hart welcomes new service in Hastings

PIN: Creating Opportunities Forum Programme

Interventions Alliance to provide new Ministry of Justice rehab services aimed at reducing reoffending across four English regions

GFSL CRED programme helps ex-offenders into work

Justice and Rehabilitation Forum