North West prisoners given ‘military-style’ classes to boost employment chances after release

By Mihaela Ivantcheva

A pilot scheme will give prisoners across the North West ‘intensive military-style’ lessons in maths and English to boost their employment chances and break the cycle of re-offending.

Prisons in Manchester and Styal are among those chosen to take part in the scheme announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable, along with Garth, Kirkham, Lancaster Farms and Altcourse.

The compulsory classes, which are based on a programme used for new recruits in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, will consist of 35 hours of lessons in one week block.

The courses will be paid for from the £153.6m budget spent on education programmes in prisons across England this year.

Dr Cable said: “Crime blights lives, both for the offender and the victim.

“That is why we are piloting this programme in prisons, so we can give prisoners the basic skills they need to get their lives on track and bring down re-offending rates.”

According to the National Audit Office re-offending costs the public purse between £9.5 billion and £13 billion a year.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “This pilot is about ensuring prisoners are more likely to work than commit crime when they leave.

“Breaking the damaging cycle of re-offending and re-imprisonment will not only turn around the lives of countless prisoners, it will also prevent the suffering of their potential victims and reduce the burden on the taxpayer.”

Research has shown that the vast majority, 97%, of offenders say they want to stop offending.

About 68% of surveyed inmates cite that having a job is the biggest factor in helping them to do so.

“We are determined to make prisons places where people learn skills to build lives beyond crime.

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