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Rehabilitation of Offenders

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2021

We must rehabilitate offenders by focusing relentlessly on the factors that we know drive reoffending. That is why we are working across Government to support people into a job, stable accommodation and treatment for substance misuse. We have recently announced a £200 million investment in third-sector providers that deliver specialist rehabilitation services to address those core priorities.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer thus far. What further measures does he intend to introduce to ensure that prison governors enable those people leaving prison to be properly trained and briefed on how they can get not only housing, but job opportunities and benefits if they qualify for them, so that when they leave prison they are not tempted to go back to their old haunts and, indeed, to reoffend.

My hon. Friend speaks with great authority on this matter. This House will recall well the excellent work that he did in respect of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. He is absolutely right. We are investing more than £20 million in a landmark new accommodation service, providing up to 12 weeks of accommodation for prison leavers who would otherwise be homeless. That will start later this summer in five of our probation regions in England, but we want to go further. We want to introduce housing specialists in 20 prisons to strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders such as those of local councils and housing providers and to improve the expertise in prisons. We also want prison work coaches, so that not only is the accommodation sorted, but getting into a job is as well. Why is that important? It is because those who leave with a job reduce their chances of reoffending by 9%, changing lives in the process.

HMP Berwyn is one of the largest and newest prisons in Britain and has been chosen as a pilot site for the Ministry of Justice’s employment advisory board scheme. This scheme will bring together business leaders, prison coaches, statutory services and the MP in order to secure employment for offenders on release. I thank the Minister for backing Berwyn and invite him to Wrexham to see the businesses that are putting their faith in the justice system and to sample one of Berwyn’s award-winning custodial pies.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for her question, but I am even more grateful to her for being such a champion of HMP Berwyn and, indeed, of this important initiative. She is absolutely right: getting more prison leavers into jobs is key to cutting crime. As I have indicated before, it reduces the chance of reoffending by 9%. Of course, I would be delighted to visit her in Wrexham to see the great work of the employment advisory board. I congratulate her and all those she is working with on their fantastic work at Berwyn in the Custodial Pie Corporation, upskilling men in the hospitality industry.