Jobs misery for ex-inmates after leaving Hindley prison

Just one in 11 ex-inmates is in employment within six weeks of being released from Hindley prison, new figures reveal.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 2:27 pm
Updated Friday, 25th September 2020, 2:30 pm
HMP Hindley
HMP Hindley

Prison reform charity The Howard League said jails across England and Wales are “turning out toddlers” with offenders unable to learn basic life skills behind bars, leaving many struggling to find or keep jobs on the outside.

Ministry of Justice data shows just nine per cent of prisoners released from HMP Hindley were employed within six weeks between October 1 last year and March 31 this year.

That was below the prison’s target of ​14.3 per cent for the period.

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The figures come from annual statistics which review the performance of prisons on a range of measures, with targets set locally and nationally.

For its performance in post-release employment, HMP Hindley received an overall rating of one – the lowest available, with four being the highest – meaning it is “ of serious concern”.

Across England and Wales just five prisons achieved their targets, making employment within six weeks one of the poorest performing measures.

Frances Crook, chief executive of The Howard League, warned such targets can be problematic, as many ex-prisoners struggle to retain jobs when they get them.

She said: “There is a huge effort to get people a job on release from prison.

“But more than 80 per cent of prisoners are not employed in a PAYE (pay as you earn) job one year on.

“The reason is because prisons don’t prepare people for the real world.

“It’s basic life skills such as getting yourself up in the morning, having a shower and some breakfast and being work ready, that prisoners are not capable of. They are turning out toddlers.”

She added that some inmates learning skilled work behind bars are not doing long enough hours to prepare them for a real job on release.

Data shows HMP Hindley prisoners ​completed 86.9 per cent of their scheduled working hours in the 11 months to February – against a national target of 80 per cent.

However, the number of hours actually worked by inmates was not disclosed.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of social justice charity Nacro, which works with people in and leaving prison, said many people are released without having “meaningful training” or a home to go to.

“Add to that a criminal record, which holds them back from employment opportunities,” he added.

“We are hopeful that the Government’s commitment this week to strengthening prison education, focusing on work-based training and skills will deliver real change.”

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