1. ITV Report

Calls for more support for ex-offenders as reoffending rates in Wales increase

Credit: ITV Wales

Reoffending rates in Wales have increased according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice.

Figures from July 2016 to June 2017 show a year-on-year increase of 1.5 on the rate of reoffending from those who were released from custody - received a non-custodial conviction.

rate of reoffending between April 2016 and March 2017.
rate of reoffending between July 2016 and June 2017.

The term "reoffender" includes any offender who commits a crime and later goes on to commit another offence.

Across England and Wales the average cost of keeping a prisoner in jail for one year is more than £37,500, although not all reoffenders go to jail.

Gavin Etchell was released from prison last month, and is now working as a personal trainer. Credit: ITV News

Gavin Etchell has been in jail three times, spending nearly a decade behind bars.

He was first sentenced at 15-years-old for grievous bodily harm and robbery. He served four years.

Obviously I went down when I was 15. I got out when I was 19, just after my 19th birthday. But basically I grew up, the best years of my life when I should have been outside, I was in jail.

– Gavin Etchell

At 25-years-old he was imprisoned again for a drugs offence.

After his second offence, Gavin says he was learning a trade but broke his hand and could not work. When he applied for benefits, he says they did not cover his rent.

There's loads of hurdles in front of you, which is hard for someone who's just got out of jail anyway, they're not used to being outside, and it can be a bit of a struggle.

Obviously I went back to selling drugs to see myself through.

– Gavin Etchell
cost of reoffending to the taxpayer across England and Wales.
Credit: ITV News

Gavin was released from his latest offence last month, after serving a five year term.

This time he says things are going to be different. Gavin gained his personal training qualifications during his time in prison.

Gavin has also received help developing his business from people like Jamie Grundy - an independent support worker for ex-offenders and Co-Founder of InsideOut Wales - a new social enterprise that aims to help ex-prisoners adapt to life on the outside.

Jamie Grundy and Gavin before starting a workout Credit: ITV News

They met while Jamie was researching a book about the football team in HM Prescoed Prison in Monmouthshire.

Jamie says there is not enough support available for newly released offenders to adapt to the challenges facing them.

Half of the men coming out of prison say they want to work for themselves, but the support that would be able to translate that need into actual physical business is not there.

There is support out there but demand outstrips demand unfortunately.

– Jamie Grundy, Co-Founder InsideOut Wales

A Ministry of Justice Spokesperson said the department is working to help more ex-prisoners back into employment.

Reducing reoffending is key to cutting the £15 billion it costs society each year, lowering crime levels and ensuring fewer people become victims of crime.

This is why we launched a new employment and education strategy last year which has already seen an extra 200 businesses register to join the 300 already working to put prisoners on a path to employment.

More than 160 education bodies, businesses and charities have also signed up to provide training courses ranging from construction to life skills and money management for prisoners.

– Ministry of Justice Spokesperson

A report, called 'A Sporting Chance', commissioned by the Ministry of Justice last year argued sport can have a positive impact on reducing rates of reoffending.

[Sport] can be a relatively straightforward way to encourage otherwise reluctant individuals to engage in a whole raft of associated activities, while also serving to improve mental and physical health, reduce violence, and tackle reoffending.

The latter is an enormous challenge: at present, 29% of adults and 42% of children reoffend within one year from release from prison, with these rates rising dramatically (50% of adults and 77% of children) for those with 11 or more previous offences.

– Rosie Meek, report author