UK civil service to expand ex-offender recruitment programme

By on 15/09/2019
A glimpse of light: the UK’s GFIE scheme aims to help ex-offenders find work in the civil service. Pic by Donald Tong

The UK’s Civil Service Commission chief executive, Peter Lawrence, has appealed to colleagues to join a scheme that finds work for ex-prisoners in the civil service.

In a blog post published on the government website, Lawrence asked fellow civil servants to get involved in the “unique and exciting” Going Forward into Employment (GFIE) scheme – helping the programme to expand and broaden its remit. Launched as a pilot in 2017, the scheme has so far placed 25 ex-offenders in seven government departments. 

A collaboration between the Cabinet Office, the Civil Service Commission (which oversees the merit-based appointment system), place-based programme Civil Service Local and the Ministry of Justice, the programme aims to help ex-offenders find meaningful employment in the civil service.

“This is in line with both the Civil Service Commission’s strategic priorities and the civil service ambition to be the UK’s most inclusive employer by 2020,” Lawrence wrote. 

As part of the pilot phase, the GFIE team established close relationships with governors and staff at three prisons in the North-West of England and in a number of departments – where it identified vacancies that might be suitable for ex-offenders.

The project successfully recruited its first ex-offender in January 2018, and provides up to two-year fixed term appointments. 

Lawrence described the scheme as “breaking new ground in recruitment” and “supporting improved life chances for citizens into employment”. 

Cost of reoffending 

It is estimated that the annual cost of reoffending to the UK is around £15bn (US$18.2bn). Bounce Back, a charity and social enterprise focused on the training and employment of ex-offenders, has calculated that the average cost of keeping a criminal in prison is around £40,000 (US$48,600) per year, and notes that “one of the main contributors to re-offending is the lack of paid employment” after they are released. 

“The project is, at present, a first step to help mitigate the extent of these costs, and empower ex-offenders to prove what they can bring to the workplace through employment in the civil service,” Lawrence said. 

Next phase 

“We now want to broaden GFIE’s reach across the UK and extend our support to other groups of citizens who face particular barriers — for example, military veterans or those leaving care — to create a civil service that is more diverse and reflective of the society it serves,” he added. 

This month Lawrence became director of the GFIE, and will lead it into the next phase in parallel with his role as chief executive of the Civil Service Commission.

“I am very excited to be taking on this role as the project seeks to accelerate and scale up. Providing life-chance opportunities to a range of people through employment as civil servants is something I am passionate about,” he said, adding that he hopes other civil servants will be “as keen as me to be part of making a real difference to the lives of people” through the programme. 

In order to grow, he and his team are looking for “ambitious” civil servants to join GFIE and work alongside departments, prison governors, veterans charities and external partners to find candidates suitable for roles across the civil service.

There are immediate secondment opportunities available in the GFIE team nationally, Lawrence explained.  “Working as part of a virtual project team, these are great opportunities to build your capability as a civil servant, engage, learn and work across all departments while supporting one of the government’s key priorities,” Lawrence said, adding that ideally secondments would last for at least six to 12 months “to provide maximum development and impact”.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

One Comment

  1. Jeff

    16/09/2019 at

    This is great, management and senior officials will be able to show Ex Offenders how to break the laws with out getting caught.

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