Prisoners: Rehabilitation and Work

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th December 2016.

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Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome 12:00 am, 6th December 2016

What further plans the Government have to provide prisoners with (a) drug rehabilitation and (b) education and skills training to improve their prospects for finding work on release from prison.

Photo of Stephen Metcalfe Stephen Metcalfe Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons)

What further plans the Government have to provide prisoners with (a) drug rehabilitation and (b) education and skills training to improve their prospects for finding work on release from prison.

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As part of our reforms, we are going to set clear standards on the outcomes we expect each prison governor to achieve on drug rehabilitation, education and other drivers of rehabilitation.

Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

I thank the Minister for that. Given that 42% of adult prisoners in England and Wales were permanently excluded from school, does he agree that it is only through education that the cycle of reoffending can be stopped? What more can be done to ensure that this message properly resonates across the prison estate?

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend makes an important point: education is one of the key ways in which we can help to break the cycle of reoffending—where the offender, obviously, is willing. One of the things we have done to speed up this process is to transfer the education budget from the Department for Education to the Ministry of Justice. That budget will be delegated to governors so that they can organise education that suits individual prisoners’ needs.

Photo of Stephen Metcalfe Stephen Metcalfe Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons)

I am pleased to hear about the steps that have been taken to improve drug rehabilitation and education. Could I suggest that prisoners close to release are also given careers advice and experience mock interviews to aid their search for work on release?

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Again, that is an important point. If someone has spent quite a lot of time inside, it is highly likely that they will be unused to the world of work and certainly to interviews. One of the things we are doing is having Department for Work and Pensions work coaches work with prison governors as part of the regime. Their job is to help prepare prisoners, alongside rehabilitation companies, for life after release.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

A constituent of mine has a criminal record but has been a law-abiding citizen for over 40 years. Should there not come a time when she is able to move on and no longer has to explain to prospective employers the mistake she made when she was much younger?

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My right hon. Friend raises a point around conviction and time spent. Obviously, there is the Ban the Box campaign, which we are supporters of, and which encourages employers to look beyond these things, certainly when it comes to employing ex-offenders. I would be happy to speak with my right hon. Friend directly about the case of her constituent.

Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant

In Havant, the Hampshire community rehabilitation company helps offenders and drug users to find employment and training opportunities. Will the Minister continue to support its excellent work in breaking the reoffending cycle?