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Employment 246Ten good reasons to hire ex-offenders

"I find the staff we’ve recruited from prisons are among the best colleagues we’ve got," James Timpson CEO of Timpson, the key-cutting and shoe repair business says. "We see this as a great way of not only helping people but of getting people to work for us. We simply recruit people who we feel deserve a chance. I think the best way to avoid people going back to prison is to give them a good job."

Timpson, the company  has been running a scheme for helping ex-offenders return to the workplace for over a decade. Working closely with the prison service, Timpson’s are able to identify potential candidates within prisons who have the right kind of personality to make it on release working within the business. It’s a closely managed process from selection, training and mentoring up to release, with the opportunity to have a trial and secure employment with the company from walking out the gates. Employing ex-offenders is not without its challenges. Many people are released from prison to find themselves ostracised by friends and family, many have lost their homes.Timpson has learnt that the best way to ensure that a newly released prisoner doesn’t reoffend is to employ them as soon as they get out of prison.

10% of Timpson colleagues were recruited directly from prison and there have been a very, very small number who have re-offended. In addition, 75 per cent of staff who join Timpson from prison are still with them after six months.

James Timpson explains more:

Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince's Responsible Business Network whose members work together to tackle a wide range of issues that are essential to creating a fairer society and a more sustainable future, launched its Ban The Box campaign in 2013. This calls on employers to drop the tickbox that requires job applicants to reveal whether they have criminal convictions. It found that employment reduces re-offending rates by 33pc-50pc, but that many candidates were being dismissed by employers at the pre-interview stage because of their record.

So far, 74 employers, including the entire Civil Service, have committed to creating fair employment opportunities for ex-offenders. These companies do not request information about unspent criminal convictions on application forms and they examine recruitment policies and practices to identify how positive disclosure of criminal convictions can take place later.

BITC brought the scheme over from the US, where the National Employment Law Project has driven up the number of hired ex-offenders from 5pc to 55pc within three years in some cities.

In the USA, Butterball Farms have a long track record of hiring ex-offenders. 57% of those newly hired to Butterball in 2015 were ex-offenders, and at any given time, 30%+ of Butterball’s workforce is made up of employees with a criminal background.

They observe the following benefits:

  1. More dedicated employees
  2. Apt to do more
  3. Take advantage of educational opportunities
  4. Looking out for you since you looked out for them.
  5. The training they received in prison may be transferable to your job.
  6. Stay with you longer.

Added to these are benefits for the ex-offender:

  1. Giving them the dignity of work
  2. Restoring self-esteem and confidence
  3. Helping them to rebuild their lives

We know there are more than these...

And then benefits to society:

  1. Reducing re-offending and the costs to the justice system.

We know there are more than this too but I said I'd keep to ten!

I'll leave the last words to James Timpson, "I would say that if you’re in the business of wanting good people to work for you, you would be wise to look for talent in strange places, and one of those places may be prisons because from our experience, we’ve found lots of superstars there."

If you are an employer, why not review your employment policies/application forms?

Church or Employer? You may find linking with Clean Sheet to be helpful. They empower local churches and employers to support prisoners and ex-offenders into the world of work by offering a unique 3-Step Pathway from prison to employment.

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Geoff Knott, 11/10/2016

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