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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
South: Reoffending
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show, BBC South

Men in hand cuffs
An all too common connection - time after time...

Back in the jug again?

A staggering 18% of all crime can be put down to former prisoners, according to the government. All of which costs 11bn a year.

With the prison population at record levels and the prison system at saturation point, it is a problem crying out for a solution.

Mark Oaten's advocacy on the network part of the programme of cutting back on custodial sentences may be one answer.

What about our patch?

Here, on Politics Show South, we will be looking at schemes to cut the reoffending rate.

A lot of the government's thinking was made public in last December's green paper "Reducing Reoffending Through Skills and Employment".

The clue to the strategy is in the title - they intend to "focus strongly on jobs", and believe that "sustained employment is a key to leading a crime-free life".

There are many initiatives already underway in the south.

Prisoner in cell
The reasons for reoffending are many and complex

One is National Grid, which has so far trained and employed more than 200 prisoners and aims to up that to 1,000 by the end of 2007.

It seems to work.

The reoffending rate of people who have been through their scheme is just 7%, compared with a national average of 70%.

Leon is 22-years-old and served 18 months in Rochester and then Reading Young Offenders Institution before training as part of the National Grid scheme.

"People don't want to employ an ex con," he says, "people judge us by one silly mistake. The National Grid scheme has offered me a future, it offers targets to reach, it's a positive all of the time. It has changed my life... I'm really grateful."

Also on the show, we introduce a new feature... "The Wisdom of Cabbies"...

Cab driver
The fount of all knowledge...

We all know that taxi drivers have the answers to all life's problems, so we will be finding out how they would deal with reoffenders.

But we also want to know what you think...

Is rehabilitating people into the community the answer, or would you rather see prison being used to punish and deter?

Send us an email and we will put your points to our invited guests.

Join Peter Henley live from Reading (not quite in the gaol) this Sunday October 22nd from 12:00 BST on BBC One.

ON SAFARI ...
The Politics Show South on safari ... sorry, location

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SEE ALSO
Five foreign prisoners reoffended
28 Apr 06 |  UK Politics
South
11 Sep 05 |  England

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