Prisons, courts and police stations have been given the opportunity to engage more collaboratively with the construction sector thanks to a major new procurement agreement which will help shape public sector construction.
As prison governors were granted greater autonomy to grant Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) to offenders, the Government announced that 230 additional businesses had joined the MoJ’s flagship offender work placement scheme, the New Futures Network (NFN). The news came a year on from the launch of the prisons Education and Employment Strategy.
The Justice Secretary also announced a fundamental reform of the probation system to ensure that rehabilitation, support into work, treatment and housing is continued for ex-offenders when they leave prison. In addition, a new £250,000 construction academy opened at HMP Leeds – to equip offenders in Yorkshire with valuable skills ahead of release.
Meanwhile, jails now have access to the Prison Education Dynamic Purchasing System – giving Governors power to commission services from a wide variety of educational providers, charities and businesses. Suppliers will aim to drive more offenders into the classroom.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and ultimately keep the public safe.
“Many organisations are recognising the value of giving offenders a second chance, and we have carefully listened to their feedback before making these changes.
“I urge more businesses to join this movement and help ex-offenders turn their backs on crime for good.”
Commenting the changes to ROTL, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction. More than three years after it was first promised, the government has finally delivered a significant shift towards the greater use of temporary release (ROTL), recognising its proven benefits in terms of preparing prisoners for a crime free life.
“Prisoners, employers, families and the public at large will all benefit from these changes, building on an exceptional track record of success. There is much further to go — prisoners are serving longer sentences than ever before, and these changes will mainly benefit only the minority who have managed to get to an open prison towards the very end of their time inside. Ministers should not wait a further three years before taking the next step.”