Thoughts, stories and events to share

Employ someone EXceptional

Jack Merritt, about 5 years ago

According to the Government's official statistics, published in 2016, only 26.5% of people leaving prison enter employment upon release. Previously, we have discussed separately the range of benefits that employing an ex offender can bring for the individual, businesses and society. Today, we are going to discuss how these factors come together and benefit everyone.

Employers say ex-offenders are loyal – people with a criminal record are more likely to stick with a job because they know how difficult it was to find that job in the first place.

Dominic Headley, Nacro

For the individual, release from prison can be an uncertain and difficult time. 97% of those leaving prison say they have a desire to stop offending. Having a stable job upon release is one of the foundations for allowing people to rebuild their lives and move away from crime. Work provides stability in a time where everything else around them may be changing. Employment is the single most important factor in reducing re-offending, reducing the likelihood by up to 59%. By employers recognising the value of what people are doing now, and working towards the future, it reduces the tendency to focus on the past of ex-offenders.

An Ex-offender's Story from The Exceptionals on Vimeo.

We are giving people a second chance which is what everyone deserves. We are also showing that this project is diverse and promotes equality.

Nicole, Legacy Coordinator, Tideway.

For the business that employs an ex-offender it can send a message to the wider public that you stand for fairness, inclusion and community, in a world where it is increasingly important to demonstrate corporate responsibility. The business case is not simply one of 'giving back' or being seen as progressive, 87% of those who have employed people with convictions say they are at least as productive as the rest of their workforce, and 82% believe that they perform at least as well as their colleagues without convictions. Employing people with convictions can also have a positive impact on other members of the workforce, improving staff morale and motivation as people feel proud to work for organisations which challenge stereotypes and misconceptions.

The Business Case from The Exceptionals on Vimeo.

Finally, there are a number of societal benefits to increasing the number of people leaving prison with jobs. Clearly, the statistics which suggest that employment can reduce an individual's likelihood of re-offending present an obvious societal benefit of less crime. Justice Secretary David Gauke claims that re-offending costs the UK economy £15 billion a year. In addition to this, a reduction in re-offending will also reduce pressures on the criminal justice system. According to the Prison Reform Trust the average annual overall cost of a prison place in England and Wales is now £35,182. Breaking the cycle of offending is one of the most effective ways to reduce the financial burden of crime on the state and the taxpayer. Breaking the cycle of crime can also increase stability among families and communities, according to the charity Barnardo's, children with a parent in prison are three times more likely to be involved in offending. Successful ex-offenders can also act as role models for others in their communities.

A number of men have successfully gone on to be employed full time by Recycling Lives and I think they are evidence of the success of the programme in getting people from custody back into citizenship and into productive work in society.

– Graham Beck, Governor, HMP Kirkham

The EXceptionals campaign has been created to highlight the individual, business and social benefit that is created when businesses employ ex-offenders. Many businesses have already seen the improvements that result when they are able to tap into the excellence of this potential workforce. For those business inspired to employ ex-offenders, we want to dispel their doubts and fears and highlight the benefits. Our campaign has also started a 'directory' which highlights organisations which can provide training, recruitment and support to those businesses who want to find out more about employing an EXceptional. Visit our blog to explore the many stories of employers and organisations pursuing this exciting path, watch the films about our story, and explore the directory and fact-sheets to learn more about employing an ex-offender and where to find support.