May Gurney boss urges businesses to employ ex-prisoners

Nigel Dyer

Nigel Dyer - Credit: Archant

A top boss at May Gurney has urged businesses to help rehabilitate ex-prisoners before new government plans are rolled out to tackle re-offending.

Nigel Dyer, regional director, said communities would benefit if companies acted ahead of the government's proposed Rehabilitation Bill, which aims to tackle high re-offending rates by paying firms, and voluntary bodies, to supervise criminals.

It comes as the Norwich-based firm employed 22 ex-offenders out of the 37 passing through its 'Making Ground' programme – an employment scheme giving offenders work experience and training while completing their prison sentence.

And Mr Dyer said employing ex-offenders would also boost government coffers, as re-offending costs the UK taxpayer between £9.5bn and £13bn each year.

Currently, some 90,000 ex-offenders are released from English and Welsh prisons each year, but according to figures from the Ministry of Justice, about 45pc re-offend within a year, rising to 66pc within three years and 72pc within five years.

He said: 'While breaking this cycle of crime is a priority for the government, it is also something that business should play a greater role in addressing.

'Creating supervised jobs and training programmes for ex-offenders is one route to achieving this and also ensuring that ex-offenders play a valuable role in their communities after their release from prison.

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'Studies have shown that ex-offenders who get a job on release from prison are as much as 50pc less likely to re-offend.

'This is why May Gurney set up a programme called 'Making Ground' in June 2011 that gives low-risk offenders the opportunity to gain work experience and training while completing their prison sentence and is designed to help restore self-esteem.

'Programmes like ours are a win-win situation for communities, taxpayers, ex-offenders and businesses.

'We think the business community should act ahead of the Rehabilitation Bill becoming law and do more to help communities and former prisoners by providing supervised jobs and training to help them turn their lives around.

'If more businesses take such action, then everyone benefits.'