Adrian Bailey, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Commons Select Committee believes that introducing speech and language therapy for young offenders would help reduce cases of re-offending and help them find employment upon their release.
He told commissioners at a Guardian fringe event at the Labour conference, sponsored by Transition to Adulthood, Business in the Community and Working Links, that a high percentage of the young people who commit criminal offences are “virtually identifiable” at a very young age because they suffer tremendous speech and language difficulties.
The MP for West Bromwich also said he believes that adding speech and language therapy to the educational programmes in prison has huge potential and has pushed prisons to carry out speech and language assessments on every young offender as soon as they enter the prison.
Bailey revealed that a prison governor stated that the speech and language therapist would be “the last member of staff I’d get rid off”.
Stephen Evans a Director at Working Links has said that many people who get help from the organisation suffer from lots of disadvantages such as mental health issues and lack of education. There are usually many agencies involved yet they fail to share the information about the individuals they are dealing with which means they often have to answer the same questions many times over in different assessments.
“You need to make it easier for people, not harder. We’ve got a system now where, when you have a relative who passes away, you only have to tell one government agency and they tell all the rest,” he said. “It would be great if we could do that for people that are living as well.”
A new campaign called “Ban the box’’ will be launched next month by Business in the Community which aims to raise the numbers of people employed who hold a criminal conviction. In order to achieve this, the campaign will urge companies to stop demanding a declaration of conviction in job application forms. Edwina Hughes, the Campaign Manager said this would “ensure people are assessed on their skills and abilities first, rather than their convictions”.
She also added that by requesting this information applicants with criminal convictions get excluded at the very first part of the application process.
“We need to change the perception,” she said. “We need to say that, actually, one in five adults in the UK has a criminal conviction more serious than a driving offence. So get real: you’re already employing people with criminal convictions whether you want to admit it or not.”
Alliance Boots the employer behind pharmacy chain Boots UK and Alliance Healthcare has already signed up to the campaign.
Patrick Dunne Group Property and Procurement Director has given permission to the organisation’s main suppliers, with a UK workforce of 250,000 people combined, to employ people with criminal records “if they’re the right people for the job”.
“We’re not saying you shouldn’t have a conversation about convictions,” he warned. “When you get to meet the person you can ask that question at the interview, but at least you’re now meeting them and building rapport, whereas historically the computer would say no.”
Although he did add that in some cases it can be hard to promote “ban the box” for other companies in terms of making a financial case.
“You have to want to believe that creating a pool of employment in your locality will benefit you in the long term,” he said. “We can help put a business case together, but if people are coming on solely on a pound notes basis then maybe they’re the wrong type of employer.”
The Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust has asked for a financial aid to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders. She has explained that each jailed young adults costs the taxpayer £60,000 a year.
“In the US, employers have been given a subsidy to employ ex-offenders,” she said. “That’s probably a better way to use some of that £60,000.”
About Pathway Software
Pathway Software (www.pathwaysoftware.com) specialises in the design and development of patient information systems for Allied Health professionals.
Its flagship product, Therapy Manager, is an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system specifically designed for Therapy Services to provide decision makers with the ability to track and manage clinical activity and analyse cost of care by patient, episode or service. The system also demonstrably reduces administration time and the costs of managing Therapy Services.