A successful programme
Possibly the best known in-prison rehabilitation programme is the series of prison restaurants run by the Clink charity.
The reputation of the programme was greatly enhanced earlier this month (10 November 2016) when the Ministry of Justice’s own Justice Data Lab reported on the re-offending behaviour of 89 adults who took part in the Clink Restaurant training programme. The overall results show that those who took part in the programme were less likely to re-offend, and had a lower frequency of re-offences, than those who did not.
How the Clink restaurants work
The Clink provide vocational training in catering, front of house, cleaning and horticulture. The service aims to give prisoners skills and qualifications that will enable them to secure employment on release, with the intention that this will reduce the rate of reoffending.
There are training restaurants in HMP High Down, HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal, and a horticulture project in HMP Send. Their objective is to develop life and employment skills in preparation for release and provide specialist training to facilitate prisoners’ future employment in the hospitality industry. The charity provides an intensive support package on release into the community, including help with accommodation, debts, substance misuse, employment, budgeting and life skills.
The programme works with prisoners for between 6 and 18 months immediately prior to their release. The restaurants are a live working environment with a busy customer service. Trainees learn to take responsibility as individuals and to work as part of a team. They learn time keeping, team work, customer service and they develop their self-esteem and confidence. The length of prisoners’ sentences does not determine the likelihood of their being selected for the programme, as long as they have a minimum of 6 months remaining to complete their training.
The charity has been running for 6 years in HMP High Down and has more recently opened in Cardiff, then Brixton, Send and Styal.
The Justice Data Lab (JDL) analysis of the Clink Restaurant training programme measured proven re-offences in a one-year period for a ‘treatment group’ of 89 offenders who took part in the programme and for a much larger ‘control group’ of similar offenders who did not take part. These measurements were used to estimate the impact that the programme would be expected to have on the re-offending behaviour of any people who are similar to those in the analysis.
The JDL analysis concluded that for 100 typical prisoners who participated in the Clink programme, compared with 100 similar offenders who did not:
- The number of people who would commit a proven re-offence during one year after release could be lower by between 4 and 20 people. This is a statistically significant result.
- The number of proven re-offences committed during the year could be lower by between 4 and 63 offences. Again, this is a statistically significant result.
There weren’t enough people in the cohort for the JDL to make any conclusions about the programme’s impact on the time after release before any reoffending committed their first further offence.
It is always heartening to report on positive programmes and never more so than at the moment when the government is deciding how to pursue its prison reform agenda.
Evidence that prisons can support rehabilitation is critical to initiatives such as the RSA’s Future Prison initiative which is urging the MoJ to follow its blueprint for a new system of community-based rehabilitative prisons.