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Employment: Ex-offenders

Volume 652: debated on Monday 7 January 2019

We know that employment is the best way to avoid repeat offending. I should declare that I wrote a book on prisoner rehabilitation called “Doing Time” so I am particularly passionate about the work being done at both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions with the “See Potential” campaign, which contains guidance to encourage the recruitment of ex-offenders.

The hon. Gentleman’s politeness and the fact that he was born and brought up in my constituency are not altogether unrelated.

We share much in common, Mr Speaker.

A constituent of mine was convicted of an offence abroad 18 years ago when she was 20 years old. Since then, she has rebuilt her life and trained to become a social worker. She got a job, but she was told at the end of her probationary period that she could not keep it for reputational reasons. Will the Minister consider giving guidance to public sector employers to ensure that they will take a risk with people and do not continue to punish them long after their sentence has been spent?

I represented hundreds of people as a criminal legal aid barrister, and the vast majority of my clients deserved rehabilitation and a fresh start, so I wish my hon. Friend’s constituent well. I can confirm that the Government will issue clearer guidance for the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 on that precise point.

The Minister will be aware that the Ministry of Justice recently introduced the female offender strategy, so will he set out what work the DWP is doing to support women ex-offenders back into work, which is one of the biggest causes of social breakdown and why they cannot integrate back into the community?

The reality is that the Ministry of Justice’s education and employment strategy allows each prisoner to be set on a path to employment when they arrive in prison, and the Ministry is working hand in hand with the more than 100 job coaches working inside our prisons.