If prisons were the NHS, if the NHS were prisons –
would we run it like this?

6th April 2018


This blog is written by Isabel King, Director at Enterprise Inspiration, the organisation she founded, grew out of delivering sessions on self employment in prisons and in hostels. She was shocked at how the system is broken (back 6 years ago – never mind now!)

Reducing re-offending is measured by people not returning to prison. Whatever we think of the prison and justice system this is a key measure.

The latest statistics go like this (from Bromley briefing Aug 2017) ref*– Re offending rates – 44% of adults reconvicted within one year of release.

– Re offending rates – 48% of women are reconvicted within one year of release

– From evidence, engagement with education can significantly reduce re-offending. The number of qualifications achieved at even level 1 or 2 has “plummeted” in four years.

Let’s get our head round a BIG number. Re offending costs approximately £13 – 15 billion annually. The cost of the total NHS is approximately £124 billion. In other words if we could sort out any portion of re offending we could spend it on something healthier!

This means that most people who leave prison at some point end up back in a cell somewhere and sometime. This shocks me, Does it shock you? In other words the system keeps on saying “Hello again”

Let’s imagine if this was a hospital. The comparison points are not that people in hospitals have done something wrong or not that people in prisons are unwell.

However the fair comparison point is that both are public services, funded through large quantities of public money (tax payers!) and both are aimed at a headline result which could be described as “we don’t want to see you in here again, thank you”.

In some way both systems are aimed at treating people to get them functioning, get them back home, get them back in society, get them back being productive.

If hospital re admission rates were as high as re-offending rates society would be clamouring for action, talking about how to implement long lasting real solutions.

These quotes give a flavour of issues, they are not used to make political points:

– Peter Clarke – HMI Prisons: “It is widely accepted that family contact and support, sustainable accommodation on release from prison, and ongoing support from community based services are key factors in reducing the risk of re-offending”. Feb 2018

Quoted here –

– Dame Glenys Stacey – HMI Probation: “CRCs are too often doing little more than signposting and form-filling. Apart from Wales and Durham CRCs, we find that CRCs we have inspected are making little material difference to the prospects of individuals upon release, and yet this work is so important in breaking the cycle of offending.” Feb 2018

Quoted here –

Isabel is a business coach. Her experience combines business, teaching and management in the charity sector. She founded and runs Enterprise Inspiration with Dawn Edwards, a tax and finance expert. She is passionate about providing high quality advice that leads to people having a second chance.

Enterprise Inspiration is now delivering in various places and part of partnerships to deliver the kind of practical and relevant advice and support to really reduce re-offending, not just tick the box that says “Hello again” to someone.Let’s reduce re-offending. We are involved in a number of partnerships to reduce re-offending. If you would like to find out more about what we do and help us all to say “Good bye” properly then call Isabel (07759 074864) or see our website

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