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What is the New Futures Network?

The New Futures Network (NFN) is a specialist part of the prison service that brokers partnerships between prisons and employers.

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See what's on the inside

Last week (15 October 2020) the New Futures Network on behalf of HMPPS published its guide to business on employing prisoners and ex-offenders. The New Futures Network (NFN) is a specialist part of the prison service that brokers partnerships between prisons and employers. NFN will help organisations to identify the best option for them and put them in touch with similar businesses out of the 400+ which are already working with the prison service.

The guide highlights three distinct ways for businesses to get involved:

Opportunities for serving prisoners
Employers can set up training and production facilities in a dedicated space within the prison estate. Workshops run by external organisations benefit from a dedicated workforce made up of serving prisoners. NFN will work with you to find out what will suit your business needs. This also helps prisoners gain valuable skills and qualifications which will increase their likelihood of securing employment after release.

Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL)
Release on Temporary Licence, or ROTL, is a scheme which allows risk-assessed prisoners who are within two years of release to work while on day release from prison. This can be for a full working week or part-time. It allows you to offer training and work experience to a serving prisoner while you assess if they are right for your business, before possibly offering them a job on their release.

Employment on release
Upon release, individuals can work and have full employee rights. The New Futures Network can help you arrange interviews with prospective candidates before they are released, so you can choose the best person for your business.

The guide sets out five key reasons for businesses to recruit people with criminal convictions, set out in a graphic which I have reproduced below.

Inclusive recruitment and onboarding

The guide concludes with a series of tips for inclusive recruitment and onboarding and provides details on how recruitment practices can, sometimes inadvertently, exclude people with criminal convictions from employment opportunities. 

The advice includes recommending that businesses review their recruitment policies and practices to open up opportunities with a promise that NFN can offer support and information on this process.

NFN also advises that businesses consider what documentation will be required by the HR department before appointment; noting that some forms of ID, such as proof of address, may be very difficult for prisoners to obtain.

NFN also encourages businesses to adopt Ban the Box, a Business in the Community campaign that calls on UK employers to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs. Companies that sign up commit to removing any tick box from job application forms that asks about criminal convictions and, if necessary, moving this question to later in the recruitment process so they fairly consider applicants’ skills, experience and ability to do the job.


For people who are interested, I have built a resource page on the blog which provides a list of many of the largest organisations with expertise in helping people with criminal convictions find jobs.

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We understand that each client has differing needs and concerns. We can assist and discuss with you in advance the likely difficulties and challenges you will face in prison including, Sentence Mitigation Reports, categorisation, disciplinary proceedings, prison transfers, Release on Temporary Licence through to eventual release and living on licence in the community.



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With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

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