EDUCATION and employment are vital in reducing reoffending rates, says Holmes Chapel MP Fiona Bruce.

Fiona was speaking after welcoming an announcement by the Justice Secretary of the Education and Employment Strategy to boost prisoners’ skills.

Fiona has welcomed the announcement that offenders are to be put on the path to employment from the day they enter prison.

The Education and Employment strategy sets out new measures to boost prisoners’ skills while in custody and improve their chances of securing work on release.

This aims to cut the £15 billion annual cost of reoffending as ex-offenders in employment are up to nine per cent less likely to commit further crime.

At present 17 per cent of offenders are in P45 employment a year after release.

Fiona said: “The rehabilitation of prisoners is an issue I have been concerned about for many years.

“I welcome this announcement and wholeheartedly believe that education and employment - as well as helping prisoners maintain family contacts - are vital in reducing reoffending rates and in ensuring these individuals can re-enter society making a positive contribution and living a more fulfilled life.”

Key elements of the strategy include the following.

Governors are to be given control of education, tailoring it to prisoners’ needs.

Offenders are to receive training designed to meet local labour market requirements.

A new vocational training route - the Prisoner Apprenticeship Pathway - will offer guaranteed jobs on release.

The New Futures Network will match prisons to employers to cut the £15 billion cost of reoffending.

The strategy calls on employers to shift attitudes ‘from shop floor to boardroom’ as the Government commits to employ ex-offenders.

Secretary of State David Gauke said: “I want prisons to be places of hope and aspiration that propel offenders into employment, and ultimately help reduce the number of victims of crime in the future.

“I believe that through work people can turn their backs on crime and start a new chapter in their lives.

“Today’s announcement should signal to offenders that we will reward good behaviour and hard work with opportunity, and to employers that ex-offenders can make a positive contribution to their workforce, society and the economy.”