Master Builder magazine: April-May 2021

FEATURE HIRING EX-OFFENDERS

What is ROTL? Certain prisoners are eligible for Release On Temporary Licence (ROTL), which allows them to gain employment while on a probationary release from prison. The process takes about 8-10 weeks and starts with the employer advertising a role in a particular prison. The employer stipulates the skills and attributes they are looking for and any offences they will not consider; Men/women in the prison who are eligible for ROTL are able to apply; Suitable candidates are put forward to the employer; Candidates selected for an interview provide a disclosure letter; The employer interviews the candidates and decides who is successful; Probation officers conduct a full risk assessment, covering victim’s issues and an assessment of the workplace itself; Police checks are made on the employer; The prison’s ROTL board makes the final decision based on risks of harm, re-offending, non-compliance and public acceptability; The prisoner is formally offered the opportunity; The employer signs a memorandum of agreement with the prison; and The ROTL placement starts, with regular workplace checks undertaken by prison officers. rates, bringing savings to the taxpayer and benefiting the communities in which we work.” Simpson has employed a combination of ex-offenders – hired on full time contracts – and those on ROTL, which stands for Release On Temporary Licence (see the ‘ What is ROTL? ’ boxout for more). Emma Wagstaff, National Sector Development Manager at NFN, says

Ex-offenders are often met with negative preconceptions but the reality for many is a fierce appetite to work and an intense loyalty to their employers

P unctual, reliable, hard working and eager to learn. These are the words used by one employer to describe the ex-offenders his company has employed. Stephen Simpson, Director at specialist reinforced concrete contractors Cidon Construction, hired the company’s first ex-offender in December 2018 and has since employed another 20 through the New Futures Network (NFN) – a

specialist part of the prison service that brokers partnerships between prisons and employers. “We were looking for a labour source to train up,” Simpson says. “We had tried young people (16-20 year olds), but the retention rate was poor. After learning more about ex-offenders and re-offending rates, it seemed the right thing to do – giving the guys a second chance, helping to reduce re-offending

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