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Prisons: Education

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what progress has been made in expanding the programme of business-led training of prisoners provided by National Grid Transco. (175185)

I welcome the work that National Grid is doing to train prisoners and get them into work on release and would support any moves by them to expand their Offender Employment Programme.

In December 2006, the Government set out in the document “Reducing Re-offending through Skills and Employment: Next Steps” their plans for increasing employer involvement in the delivery of skills and employment programmes for all offenders in custody and in the community. I am encouraged by the ever increasing number of employers engaging with offenders and ex-offenders to improve their skills and employment outcomes.

Many of these employers, from the public, private and voluntary sectors, are members of our Employer Reference Group which was established in January 2006 to work with the Government and help shape policy on this important area. National Grid is a member of the Group and contributes to the development of employer engagement activities for improving the employment of offenders.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners have been released to take part in educational programmes in the community in 2007; and what plans he has to increase that number in future years. (175186)

The latest available data on the numbers of releases on temporary licence for training and education relate to 2006, and are published in Offender Management Caseload Statistics (Tables 10.6 and 10.6a), a copy of which is available from the Library of the House and from the following website

Prisoners will only be released on temporary licence if they meet the eligibility criteria and pass a risk assessment. Governors have an overriding duty, when considering any release, to ensure that both public safety and public confidence in the system are maintained.

Data show that numbers of offenders released to take part in educational programmes continues to increase and we will support the Prison Service in maintaining this, subject to the abovementioned concerns being satisfied. It is one of the Government’s key objectives to improve the skills and employment outcomes of (ex) offenders as set out in our “Reducing Re-Offending Through Skills and Employment: Next Steps” action plan.