Business Leaders Behind Bars
Last Wednesday evening 30 Chief Executives from our region were invited into HMP Leeds in Armley to meet with the governor Paul Baker, deputy governor Carolyn Lund and business development manager Steve Freer. The focus of the evening was “developing positive attitudes to reducing reoffending” and in particular how employment impacts on this, which studies suggest can be as much as 50%.
While not all offenders either want to work, or in fact fit the strict criteria applied by prison bosses, good systems are in place to ensure those who are identified as having the potential to make a good employee on release are given every chance to succeed.
Paul Baker (Governor) said:"We believe we instil a great work ethic onto the men in our custody and that people deserve a second chance. This event was a fantastic opportunity for us to break down barriers and show how together we can all contribute to making our community a safer place actually. I am grateful to Business In The Community for bringing so many influential leaders to the prison and I’m sure they all left with a greater understanding as to how the problem of crime in our area is not just the responsibility of the authorities."
Guest speaker for the evening was Richard MCcann whose mother was The Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim. Richard told of how he picked himself up having not had the best start to life and went on to become a bestselling author and internationally renowned motivational speaker. Proof indeed that if you want to change your life around you can!
An ex offender was also invited as an example of someone who only 18mts ago had little hope, yet after he engaged with the regime at Armley was offered employment, and has remained free from offending since leaving 12mts ago.
Steve Freer ( Business Development Manager) said: "Despite our best efforts to move criminals away from crime, there is only so much we can do on our own. However with the help of some of these businesses in offering work placements, and allowing the men to demonstrate their worth, we are better placed to succeed. We know that by making the men more employable we are improving the chances of reducing reoffending, reducing the number of victims and offering better value for money to the taxpaying public.
The alternative is to do what we’ve done in the past which is to send them out as they came in, to continue in a life of crime, and all this does is achieve spiralling costs to our economy (last year £12 billion in reoffending alone!!) By intervening and challenging their lifestyle, we can create a platform on which they can choose a better and crime free way of life, thus reducing those costs and the need for more prisons at even more expense."
HMP Leeds already work in partnership with the local Police, Probation and Voluntary Organisations but it is the corporate world who are the link to sustainability, and the more employers willing to work with them , the more successful they’ll be in creating a healthier and ultimately wealthier community.
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