We welcome the proposals to reform prisons set out in today’s Queen’s Speech. As a charity with a long track record of working in prisons and with prison leavers, we already know that prisoners can be a prison’s best asset if they are given the right opportunities.

We believe adopting a whole person approach which addresses the health and well-being needs of prisoners and uses the skills of specially trained serving prisoners to do this will deliver benefits to the criminal justice system and wider society. We already adopt this approach through our Peer Advisor Programme. A 2015/16 PwC evaluation into the programme found that it delivered £8.54 in societal value for every £1 invested in it.

We would also call for:

  • Supporting education in prisons as it plays a vital role in helping reduce re-offending and helping people to successfully resettle. In particular, this should include funding to provide vocational qualifications of a higher level in prison.
  • Encouraging the use of Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) and recognising its benefits. ROTL allows people in custody to pursue opportunities to further their education and training and apply their learning in the community – ultimately boosting their employability.

Rob Owen OBE, Chief Executive of St Giles Trust, said:

“Prison presents a real opportunity. Many of the people inside it have been consistently let down by society and support structures and – alongside punishment – it offers them the first chance they have had to make positive changes in their lives. Helping one person to do so – and using them to inspire others to do the same – has a multiplier effect which reduces the financial and human costs of crime. It is a win win for us all.”