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Prison Education and Employment Strategy — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch 4:00 pm, 17th October 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered prisons education and employment strategy.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts, and to raise this issue. I am sure that the Minister will agree that it is an incredibly important topic. It has at its heart the issue of recidivism—or reoffending, as it is more commonly known. The issue costs our society more than £15 billion every year, about twice the budget of the Ministry of Justice. I am sure that we would all agree that that is a big problem, which creates an additional burden on the prisons estate, and on taxpayers.

The prison population projections for England and Wales detail an expected rise in the prisoner population, with more than 90,000 expected by the end of June 2020. With that in mind, the importance of reducing reoffending is crystal clear, especially as reoffenders are one of the largest groups contributing to prisoner numbers. I note that the Minister has made reducing reoffending a central plank of his philosophy and strategy on prisoners and prisons.

There are some things that we can do better, and education in prison and employment after release are key. All too often, people with criminal convictions face significant barriers and prejudices on their release, which often prevent them from getting a job after they leave prison. As such, education and training is incredibly important, because it leads to jobs after release, which reduces reoffending.

In recent years, unfortunately, education participation in prisons has declined and prisoners have continued to have trouble getting a job after release. Reoffending is too high as a result.

I warmly welcome the education and employment strategy presented to Parliament by the Minister; it is a good strategy with a compelling vision that I wholeheartedly support. I want to consider the three main parts of the strategy: education in prisons, prison work, and employment after release. I thank the Minister very much for responding to this debate.