Nothing beats crime like a payslip
Published by Alan Busby on Tue 11 Sep 12 @ 13:13
Recommendations from the Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders underline fact that 'Nothing beats crime like a payslip'
AN advisory group established following a Glasgow Chamber of Commerce-led visit to HMP Barlinnie launched a recommendation booklet on Tuesday 4 September 2012 designed to help increase the prospects of ex-offenders to find and keep employment.
The Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders, introduced in partnership with the Chamber, the city council and the Glasgow Community Justice Authority presented its findings to an influential audience drawn from key public, private and voluntary sectors at the GHA Training Academy.
A central remit of the group, encompassing Chamber members, employer groups, public sector agencies and charities from across the city, was to identify key issues and challenges from the perspective of employers in recruiting ex-offenders.
From this, the group produced a 13-point set of recommendations to improve the chances of ex-offenders finding and securing stable employment.
The origins of the Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders, established in March, dates back to a Chamber 'Behind the Scenes' event held inside the city-based prison in August last year.
Representatives from around 40 member organisations took part in the event, which gave them an insight into the employability and vocation training options within Scotland's biggest prison.
Following the visit several members expressed an interest in returning to HMP Barlinnie to volunteer their time and business skills, while working with prison staff to introduce other ways to support improvements to offender and ex-offender employability in Glasgow.
The work of the group was recognised by Scottish Labour MSP Drew Smith, who tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament praising their efforts. The motion received cross-party support.
During the last six months the advisory group has consulted with a wide range of partners and stakeholders from the justice, employability and charity sectors, including Scottish Prison Service (SPS), the city council's Social Work Services and the Glasgow Community Justice Authority.
Today's launch was presented by Tom Jackson, chief officer of the Glasgow Community Justice Authority, while Chamber chief executive Stuart Patrick addressed those attending. Hugh McAloon, Deputy Director for Employability and Skills at the Scottish Government, delivered the keynote address.
Recommendations made by the Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders include:
- Vocational training programmes should be reviewed to ensure they are linked to real job opportunities and involve skill sets employers require, including transferable skills. This should involve the Scottish Prison Service, employers and skills agencies
- Establish greater links between the Scottish Prison Service, community employment and training opportunities to allow prisoners to build on skills and work experience gained in prison
- The establishment of a 'Front Door' service for employers to obtain advice, information and practical support to recruit and retain ex-offenders. A more streamlined and joined-up approach could be introduced to encourage and support employers to recruit ex-offenders
- A single and credible point of access for employers in Scotland on best practice in relation to the use of disclosure in the recruitment process that promotes equality of opportunity for ex-offenders. The Disclosure Scotland website could be developed to act as a portal
Group members and partner agencies hope the recommendations will lead to a significant change in the approach to training for both pre-release and ex-offenders, enabling them to find suitable and sustainable employment - hence the tagline 'nothing cuts crime like a payslip' - and in turn reduce re-offending numbers.
Scotland's prison population has risen every year this century and it is predicted that the number of inmates will reach 8,700 by 2016.
Forty seven per cent of offenders released from prison are re-convicted within one year - for short-term prisoners the number raises to 57 per cent.
It is estimated that securing stable employment can cut the risk of re-offending by at least a third and 33 per cent, rising in some instances to 50 per cent.
In terms of basic prisoner skills:
- Eight out of 10 have the writing skills of an 11 year old
- 65 per cent have the numeracy skills of an 11 year old
- 50 per cent have the reading skills of an 11 year old
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick, who addressed the audience at the employer-led recommendations launch, said: "The tagline 'Nothing cuts crime like a payslip' is not a flippant remark as reducing crime is good not only for individuals, their families, and their communities, but vital to our wider economic aspirations for the city.
"The over-worn image of Glasgow as Scotland's crime capital inhibits these aspirations. In relation to improving the 24-hour economy and encouraging people to come into the city centre after work for leisure activities, reducing crime and offending is a fundamental part of this goal. In addition, the idea of Glasgow as a safe place to live and do business is also a crucial factor in attracting new investment and growing our business base.
"This in turn creates new job opportunities for city residents. In the current economic climate, the importance of 'upping our game' in this respect cannot be underestimated.
"We also know that in a tight labour market, it can be harder for some our residents to find employment, including ex-offenders.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to commend the members of the Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders. They have worked diligently during the last six months to introduce these recommendations to ensure ex-offenders get a decent chance to rebuild their lives, and finding stable, suitable employment is an ideal way to start this process."
Group member Fiona McKay, of Chamber members Kinetic Performance, said: "Rarely does private business get a direct chance to make a real difference to a big public service.
"The Glasgow Employers' Advisory Group on Ex-offenders has successfully engaged businesses in this task. Involvement in shaping new thinking on the employment of marginalised groups is a privilege for business owners and leaders.
"The bold recommendations of this group are backed by solid research that acknowledges the business case for reducing re-offending rates through employment and thus the importance of creating a level playing field for ex-offenders in the labour market."
Bailie Elaine McDougall, Chair of Glasgow Community Justice Authority, said: "This is a great opportunity for CJA partners to hear what real employers think. For offenders, we know that getting a job is a key step in the path to playing a positive part in their families and communities and breaking the cycle of reoffending.
"Many offenders work hard in prisons to learn new skills and pay back for their crimes."
"These recommendations show that by working together better, CJA partners can work with employers to translate this hard work into opportunities for employment."
Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill said: "This is a fantastic initiative led by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, working together with local employers, the City Council and local justice authorities to create opportunities for employers and ex-offenders alike.
"We know that gaining employment can make all the difference for ex-offenders keeping out of bother when they have completed their sentence.
"It can help them rebuild their lives, and stop them slipping back into reoffending. This initiative is getting employers and public bodies involved with ways to help them.
"It also recognises the positive contribution that ex-offenders can bring to the workplace, where they can put their hard work and ability to use in a positive way. I look forward to finding out more about how this progresses."