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A showcase of best practice

Reoffending costs the UK taxpayer £15bn/year. With 6 in 10 employers automatically rejecting applicants with a criminal record, and the same proportion of ex-offenders unemployed one year after release, it is clear that they are facing an uphill battle to turn their lives around on release from prison.

The government holds responsibility for ensuring that offenders are as prepared as they can be on release, but the Ministry of Justice cannot do it all alone. Like all public services, HM Prison Service is facing fiscal pressures and is having to drive necessary efficiencies, which is limiting its ability to help the 47% of prisoners with no qualifications turn their lives around and find employment.

This is why employers who are going the extra mile – often without seeking publicity – to help offenders and ex-offenders gain qualifications and employment are so important and deserve to be praised. By offering training, qualifications, work experience, employment opportunities, work-readiness support, or just a supportive shoulder as offenders and ex-offenders begin to explore the world of employment, they really are changing lives. And not only this, but they have discovered along the way that there is a huge pool of talent and potential in our prisons, and with a little support ex-offenders can make the most loyal and hardworking employees they’ve ever had.

So it’s with great pleasure that we share some of these stories with you. We’ve got six case studies and a podcast series, each telling a different story of an employer’s journey working with offenders or ex-offenders. Whether you’ve considered getting involved but have hesitations, or you’ve never thought about it before, please take a look at these stories and think about the brilliant opportunities that can come from helping ex-offenders. There are resources below for more information on getting started.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director of People & Skills


  • Image of DHL


    13 March 2017 - 

    DHL’s in-prison warehouse & storage workshops provide meaningful experience and support offenders into work with us, our supply chain, and elsewhere.

  • Image of Greggs


    13 March 2017 - 

    Greggs’ Fresh Start programme gives offenders the skills and confidence they need to turn their lives around

  • Image of Land Securities

    Land Securities

    13 March 2017 - 

    Land Securities supports offenders with training in sought-after skills, improving their chances of gaining employment and supporting the industry’s need for skilled workers.

  • Image of Prospects


    13 March 2017 - 

    Prospects inspires offenders to turn their lives around and helps them fill skills gaps in a range of industries.

  • Image of Wates


    13 March 2017 - 

    Wates’ employment programmes have supported over 500 former offenders to find employment after release from prison.

Justice Minister Philip Lee said:

"This CBI (Confederation of British Industry) campaign highlights the huge business benefits to employers of setting up workshops in prisons and employing offenders and ex-offenders. It also showcases the fantastic work being done in our prisons to give women the vocational skills and education they need in preparation for release. It will give them a new start - helping to reduce reoffending and turn their backs on crime. The Ministry of Justice wants to help offenders find work, and to move forwards with a more positive future."

Helpful resources

Employer’s Forum for Reducing Reoffending – a group of national and local employers who provide opportunities for offenders.

The National Careers Service In Custody – a free service for employers to get advice and support when looking to employ offenders or ex-offenders.

See Potential – a government campaign with excellent resources, including a toolkit to help employers develop more inclusive recruitment practices.