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Blog: Novus welcomes key messages in Liz Truss speech

Peter Cox (pictured), Managing Director, comments on the government’s prison reform, which outlines proposed legislation earmarked to come into force in early 2017.

Novus welcomes the key principles within the government’s prison reform, which Justice Secretary Liz Truss recently described as “a blueprint for the biggest overhaul of our prisons in a generation”.

I support the key messages – a £1.3bn investment in modernising prisons; greater control for prison Governors to control their own budgets, including over education and employment schemes; safer and fit-for-purpose prisons for the 21st century; and statutory rehabilitation.

We welcome the investment in prisons and the impact that will have on the rehabilitative regime. More effective rehabilitation makes for a safer society.

Research we carried out with Manchester Metropolitan University identified five studies which examined the effect of education on employment, and these ultimately determined that those who engaged in prison education are 24% more likely to successfully secure employment than those who have not.

As the UK’s biggest provider of education, training and employability programmes to offenders, putting education at the heart of the prison regime and championing rehabilitation aligns with our own beliefs. It is clearer than ever that prisoners are much less likely to commit further crimes if they leave prison with the tools to enter the world of work.

The more we can do to encourage engagement in education, the more success we will have in securing productive futures for offenders.

The government has a vision that offenders come out of prison better able to find work, support their families and turn their lives around. This is a vision we wholeheartedly support. We believe in giving offenders the skills, knowledge and qualifications to successfully find employment upon release and go on to lead lives that are no longer plagued by crime. This has never been more pertinent, given that reoffending costs the UK £15bn a year.

The proposal for Governor empowerment is one that Novus has also been championing. Creating a learning environment which puts the individual needs of the offender first, and has better aligned and shared performance measures between governors and providers, is one we passionately support. It also allows local flexibility, focusing on the needs of the individual. This will facilitate better regime partnership for the provision of enhanced education, training and employability services.

We are also strongly in favour of making prisons fit for purpose and brought in line with 21st century expectations. Giving offenders the opportunity to thrive in a modern environment would represent a boost to their chances of developing the kind of skills that will help them to find work, integrate back into society and make the communities they return to safer in the process.

We look forward to further influencing the development of the government’s vision.

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