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The Prisons Strategy White Paper - supporting the vision

The Prisons Strategy White Paper, recently issued by UK Government, sets out a vision for a modern prison estate that protects the public and cuts crime by rehabilitating offenders. 

We sat down with Kate Ribey, our Pre-Construction Lead, and Joy Woods, our Senior Social Value and Sustainability Manager, for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) framework, to get their take on what this White Paper means for the UK justice estate, its key areas of focus, and how the built environment can help to support the achievement of this new vision.

Kate, can you give us a summary of the key areas of focus for this white paper?

“The White Paper is really clear in setting out what the government wants to achieve and covers crime prevention, in-prison skills and employability, post-release employment and support. I think the improved focus on mental health and wellbeing is a critical success factor. A focus on upskilling prisoners’ basic literacy and numeracy will massively increase their confidence, and greater partnerships with employers will ensure they have the right skills and support to enter the job market on release.”

How can the built environment help to support the achievement of this new vision?

Kate: “We are already working alongside Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), supporting male and female prisoners, and people with a criminal record, to achieve their potential. This is both during their sentence and post-release through our social value programme and the efforts of our delivery teams and supply chain partners.”

The publication of the White Paper will support us to reshape our offer in a way that adds even more value. It has already provoked a number of discussions on how we can go further with crime prevention and the new Prisoner Education Service.”

Joy: “By working in partnership with HMPPS, construction employers not only have an opportunity to inform and support the educational and rehabilitation of prisoners and prison leavers; they also have access to a fantastic pool of talent, helping the industry to address the skills shortage.

By collaborating with prisons and partners such as New Futures Network, employers can provide valuable opportunities such as ROTL (release on temporary licence), which greatly helps individuals to prepare for employment and develop valuable skills in the industry.”

School presentation

Joy and team ran a careers session with Minstrel Recruitment at HMP Risley

Joy, can you tell us a bit more about the support we currently provide as a business?

“We are working closely with prisons and prison education providers to embed industry insights into teaching environments and delivery. By replicating real-world scenarios, practices and processes for learners, they are one step further towards employment.

We also see ourselves as an integrator – forging long-lasting partnerships between prisons and our key supply chain partners. We are collaborating to provide advice and services on education spaces to replicate the latest work environments, and understanding of labour needs to support upskilling requirements to inform curriculum updates to ensure relevancy.

We are working to provide industry relevance within the delivery of literacy and numeracy functional skills in prison; complementing existing programmes to create engaging activities applicable to construction needs and requirements. We also link up with education partners to offer those in prison the opportunity to gain relevant, real-world qualifications, both on and off site.

We are proud of our longstanding support for regional community partners and charities, such as the Wallich in Wales, School of Hard Knocks and Recycling Lives. Through these partnerships we are able to ensure that prison leavers are supported through the transition to life outside prison, into employment, with ongoing support and mentoring to reduce the chance of re-offending.

How can we have more impact as an industry?

Kate: “Bigger impacts can be delivered through greater collaboration between all parties. That can apply equally to a project or a programme of work, or even better, through Alliancing. Working in this way will drive innovation and efficiency, as shown through our work on the A4NP Alliance – or new prisons programme as it is known by most people.

The FAC-1 contract, jointly authored by Professor David Mosey, is having a massive impact on how we work together as framework partners. The combined force of our brightest and best minds all pushing in the same direction for a common goal is already delivering results.”

Joy: “Following on from Kate’s point, we are also working in collaboration with our North West Construction Hub framework partners to deliver a range of skills development sessions linked to ‘green careers’, whether that be waste management, landscaping or domestic energy-efficient retrofit. We are excited to be working together as a cohort of contractors, providing industry insight to complement the programme delivered at HMP Forest Bank by environmental charity, Groundwork.”

Thanks to Kate and Joy for their insights into the new Prisons Strategy White Paper, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to discuss this further or find out more about our initiatives.

You can also read the full White Paper here

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