More than 12 million people in the UK have a criminal record and a quarter of the working population has a significant conviction. On average 25% of people who have offending histories go on to reoffend.
Employment opportunities are an essential part of breaking the cycle of crime and play a key role in reducing reoffending. The problem is that people who have offended often struggle to get back into regular work. But the PCC is trying to change that.
Evidence shows these people perform well in employment and often exceed their employers’ expectations. They just need the opportunity to showcase their potential and be given a second chance.
That is why the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Simon Foster, outlined a commitment to helping those with convictions in his 2022-2025 Police and Crime Plan. In the plan, the PCC pledged to develop a Charter, in partnership with the public and private sector, to encourage recruitment of people with a criminal record. And that is exactly what he is doing.
This Charter is a pledge that organisations sign up to, to employ people with convictions and to provide them with equal opportunities and support. In practice this might include guaranteeing them an interview for an entry-level job, a commitment to provide them with workplace mentors, offering training, work experience or incentives.
Support will be provided for both employers and ex-offenders during this process because the benefits for everyone are clear.
The wider benefits to organisations or employing a prison leaver include:
- Improving an organisation’s diversity, inclusion and social responsibility
- Filling vital roles where there are skills shortages
- Increasing staff retention