Mayor calls on London’s businesses to help cut reoffending

18 January 2016

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, is calling on more of London’s businesses to take up the benefits of employing ex-offenders and help drive down reoffending and cut crime in the capital.

Employers that hire ex-offenders report above average commitment and loyalty, yet just 12 per cent said they had employed an ex-offender in the last three years1. In 2013-14, just a quarter of prisoners entered employment after their release, falling to below 10 per cent for female offenders2. Without a job, ex-offenders are considerably more likely to turn back to crime.

The cobblers and key cutting chain Timpson employs more former prisoners than any other UK company, with training shops in five prisons. Since launching the scheme four years ago, 90 per cent of their ex-offenders have remained with the company for more than a year, and out of almost 300 ex-offender employees, just seven have gone on to re-offend.‎

Almost 80 per cent of those convicted of a crime or cautioned in London in 2013/14 were re-offenders, and almost 90 per cent of custodial sentences went to re-offenders2. Overall, re-offending costs the taxpayer up to £13bn each year3, but a steady job can help to break this cycle and offer long term rehabilitation.

In addition to Timpson, a handful of UK companies already proactively take on ex-offenders, and have reported that the majority are loyal, hardworking members of staff, who stay with the company for a long time and have low absence rates. These companies include coffee and sandwich shop Pret A Manger, the bank First Direct, and the UK’s largest commercial property developer Land Securities.

This morning, the Mayor helped Timpson employee and ex-offender Russell Zecanovsky‎ to cut keys for customers at the company’s Cheapside branch. He then attended a round table discussion with businesses at City Hall to highlight the opportunities being missed by the one in five companies who admit to excluding ex-offenders from their recruitment process1.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “Cracking down on reoffending will help us to dramatically cut crime, and it is clear from the wonderful work already underway by organisations like Timpson that employing former prisoners is a win-win solution. It is vital that we all play our part in helping ex-offenders to rehabilitate into the community, and give them a chance to move forward with their lives. I want to encourage many more London businesses to consider giving an ex-offender a valuable chance to turn their life around.”

Timpson employee and ex-offender Russell Zecanovsky, said: “Leaving prison and trying to get a job can be almost impossible, but I trained with Timpson for five months at their Wandsworth Prison Academy, and since leaving I’ve now worked with them for five years. Timpson really has changed my life. My job has given me a career, the chance to work my way up in an organisation, a steady income, and the opportunity to learn a skilled trade and be part of a great team. Most importantly, my job gave me a second chance and the confidence and drive to get on with my life and I haven’t looked back.”

Timpson National Recruitment Ambassador Darren Burns, himself an ex-offender, and the company Chief Executive James Timpson are both speaking at the Mayor’s round table event today. James Timpson, said:  “Recruiting people from prison has been a fantastic way for us to find superstars to serve our customers, and we’ve now introduced a target to find 10 per cent of our new recruits through this route. It's become a crucial way for us to find talented people across the country over the last 10 years, and I would encourage all businesses to consider reaping the rewards of doing the same.”

Since 2012, the Mayor has invested more than £20m on a number of schemes across the capital to tackle reoffending and help offenders to reintegrate into the community. These include support in finding work, apprenticeships, education and accommodation. The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is also investing £1.4m in the ‘Gripping the Offender’ pilot which seeks to design, test and evaluate new approaches to target the most prolific repeat offenders in North and East London.

Notes to editors

1 Prison Reform Trust, Prisons: The Facts, Bromley Briefings, Summer 2015

2 MOJ data, NOMS Annual Report 2013/14

3 National Audit Office 2010


  • Among the companies at the Mayor’s employment round table today will be cobblers and key cutting chain Timpson, infrastructure and public services provider Amey, the UK’s largest commercial property developer Land Securities, sandwich chain Greggs, and ex-offender employment service Blue Sky.
  • Some of the UK’s largest companies including John Lewis, Virgin, Marks & Spencer, First Direct, Co-Op, Timpson, DHL and the sandwich chain Greggs are already proactively employing ex-offenders.
  • The London Crime Prevention Fund (LCPF) has provided £18,865,421 to local authorities over the last four years for rehabilitation programmes. MOPAC also chairs an employment forum, Turn Around To Work, to help reduce reoffending in under 18s.
  • The Mayor is supporting ex-offender placements across the Greater London Authority family, with more than 32 ex-offenders employed by Transport for London in the last five years.
  • Last month the Mayor visited The Clink restaurant at Brixton Prison, where inmates are given the opportunity to learn the skills of the catering trade.