In October, the New Futures Network (NFN) published its “Employing prisoners and ex-offenders” guide on behalf of  Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation service in the UK (HMPPS). The report encourages partnerships between prisons and employers to enable in-sentence training and post-release work experience. NFN’s role is to convene between industry and prisons to identify the best fit - so far over 300 employers have registered as interested employers including Halfords, Redemption Roasters and Balfour Betty.

The guide sets out five reasons why employers should be thinking about ex-offenders as valuable hires. The obvious idea of reducing the rough £2000 recruitment and advertising costs is mentioned - NFN act as a broadcaster. Second, diversity and inclusion goals can be met, while serving the third government priority to reduce recidivism. A fourth argument suggests that ex-offenders can address skill gaps once completing the relevant training, much of it can be completed during time in prison with professional qualifications available. Finally, ex-offenders have been rated highly for reliability and drive - evidence Marks & Spencer shows that ex-offenders place a higher value on having a job because of a desire to stay out of prison.

The guide highlights three distinct ways for businesses to get involved:

  1. Opportunities for serving prisoners
    Employers can set up training and production facilities in a dedicated space within the prison estate. Workshops run by external organisations benefit from a dedicated workforce made up of serving prisoners. NFN will work with you to find out what will suit your business needs. This also helps prisoners gain valuable skills and qualifications which will increase their likelihood of securing employment after release.
  2. Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL)
    Release on Temporary Licence, or ROTL, is a scheme which allows risk-assessed prisoners who are within two years of release to work while on day release from prison. This can be for a full working week or part-time. It allows you to offer training and work experience to a serving prisoner while you assess if they are right for your business, before possibly offering them a job on their release.
  3. Employment on release
    Upon release, individuals can work and have full employee rights. The New Futures Network can help you arrange interviews with prospective candidates before they are released, so you can choose the best person for your business.

The guide fits alongside longstanding commitments to Ban the Box, a Business in the Community campaign that calls on UK employers to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs. Companies that sign up commit to removing any tick box from job application forms that asks about criminal convictions and, if necessary, moving this question to later in the recruitment process so they fairly consider applicants’ skills, experience and ability to do the job.