Offenders’ Employment

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons on 13th November 2018.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

What steps the Government are taking to help offenders find employment immediately after they leave prison.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Focusing on education is about getting employers into prisons and making sure that the education that we provide is relevant not just to employment, but to local employment. If there is a shortage, for example, of window cleaners in an area, it is about making sure that prisoners can get education in window cleaning. We have launched the New Futures Network, which helps to settle employers into employing prisoners. Getting this right will mean employers learning, as Timpson has in the past, that prisoners can be among an employer’s most loyal, dedicated employees, changing their lives and ultimately protecting the public.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Women in East Sutton Park Prison in my constituency get to gain qualifications and work while they are in prison, but the nearest parole hostel is in Reading, so some have to quit their jobs after they leave prison. Could my hon. Friend look into this and see whether something can be done?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

There is a big challenge about where prisons are located, as the whole House understands. It is often very helpful to have prisoners located near the place where they are eventually going to be settled. We are not able to do that in every case, but the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend Edward Argar, is leading an investigation into new forms of women’s centres to provide rehabilitation and resettlement for exactly those women prisoners.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Will the Minister consider introducing a Queen’s award for offender rehabilitation to encourage employers to employ ex-offenders?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I think that is a very, very good idea. We need to recognise and honour employers who do this. A Queen’s award is a fantastic idea. I would like to give credit to my hon. Friend for coming up with it and would like his permission to pursue it.