More offenders granted temporary release to cut reoffending costs

28 May 19

Allowing prisoners in England and Wales temporary release to take up work will reduce reoffending costs, the government has said.

Changes announced today by justice minister David Gauke will grant more prisoners ‘Release on Temporary Licence’ to integrate them into the workforce.

Government research found that increased use of ROTL is linked to reduced reoffending, which currently cost £15bn each year according to the Ministry of Justice. Ex-offenders in employment are up to nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime, the ministry said.

Gauke said: “Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and ultimately keep the public safe.

“Many organisations are recognising the value of giving offenders a second chance, and we have carefully listened to their feedback before making these changes.”

The MoJ highlighted polling from YouGov which found that 81% of employers think that employing ex-offenders has helped their business while 75% of people would be comfortable buying from a business that employs ex-offenders.

Offenders in open or women’s prisons must first go through a “tough risk assessment” before they are eligible for paid work, which will boost their prospects of securing immediate work on release, the MoJ claimed.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Extending the use of ROTL will get prisoners off their prison bunks and into meaningful education and employment in the community, preparing them for life once they are released.”

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the announcement was a “significant shift” towards greater use of ROTL but noted that it comes three years after it was first promised.

“Prisoners, employers, families and the public at large will all benefit from these changes, building on an exceptional track record of success. There is much further to go—prisoners are serving longer sentences than ever before, and these changes will mainly benefit only the minority who have managed to get to an open prison towards the very end of their time inside.

“Ministers should not wait a further three years before taking the next step.”

In February Gauke said that more short prisons sentences would be abolished and replaced by community sentences.

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