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HMP Swaleside launches education programme for prisoners with learning needs

  • Educational specialists will revamp prisoners’ learning experience to boost rehabilitation
  • Prisoners with neurodivergent needs such as dyslexia and autism to be better identified and supported
  • Goal to cut crime and reduce reoffending that costs taxpayers £18 bn per annum

Prisoners at HMP Swaleside with learning needs such as dyslexia and ADHD will receive tailored education in a bid to cut crime and reduce the £18bn spent on reducing reoffending each year.

Figures show prisoners who take part in learning while behind bars are nine per cent less likely to go on to commit further crimes compared to those who didn’t.

Yet offenders with learning disabilities can face difficulties engaging with their rehabilitation, which has a direct impact on reducing their chances of reoffending.

A new pilot in five prisons across the estate – including HMP Bristol, Berwyn, Lincoln, New Hall and Swaleside – will see dedicated educational specialists assess the learning on offer in these jails to make sure its adequately supporting the needs of offenders with diverse learning conditions.

The new team will also work to ensure prisoners with neurodivergent needs such as dyslexia and autism are identified earlier, so they are able to receive more tailored support as soon as they arrive at the prison gates. This boosts public safety by helping them better engage with their rehabilitation and reducing their chances of committing further crime.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said:

“I’m determined to transform the education on offer inside our prison system because it plays a huge role in rehabilitating prisoners.

“Increasing the support for those with diverse learning needs will create safer streets, fewer victims and ultimately ease the financial burden of further offending on the law-abiding public.”

HMP Swaleside Governor, Mark Icke, said:

“Education at HMP Swaleside is integral to our reducing reoffending strategy.

“The new specialists will work closely with our existing staff to analysis, review and develop informed ways of increasing opportunities for prisoners to change their lives around for good.”

This comes as the Lord Chancellor has commissioned HMI Prisons and Probation to conduct an independent Call for Evidence on how the criminal justice system is supporting neurodivergent individuals. With support from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, a full report will be published this Summer.

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