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1000th prisoner banks on a fresh start

18th August 2010 Print

A pioneering scheme to provide bank accounts for prisoners has reached the 1,000 milestone at HMP Forest Bank, Greater Manchester.

Introduced as a pilot project in 2006 by The Co-operative Bank in conjunction with Kalyx, who manage the category B prison in Salford, this innovative partnership approach allows prisons to offer basic bank accounts to prisoners prior to their release and, has been shown to help reduce re-offending rates by around a third.

A study* by the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University, which analysed re-offending rates at Forest Bank, also highlighted the scheme's positive impact on promoting social and financial inclusion and the importance of its role with prisoner rehabilitation and resettlement in society.

The 1,000th inmate at Forest Bank to open an account, said: "I've never had a bank account before and I've never had ID so I couldn't get an account on the outside. It's not been easy to get a job and I hope the account will help me - I've got my Fork Lift Truck license now and an account to put my wages in, it's great."

Tim Franklin, Chief Operating Officer of The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), continued: "Access to a bank account is necessary for people to fully participate in modern society. We are pleased that this pioneering approach has been shown to play an important part in prisoner rehabilitation and has reached such a significant milestone at Forest Bank.

"Not having an account can jeopardise job opportunities, make obtaining rented housing more difficult and complicate access to education grants - all conditions contributing to re-offending rates with consequences not just for individuals but for society as a whole.

"By offering this service, which most take for granted, we are making a positive contribution to the reduction of re-offending rates and helping to tackle social and financial exclusion amongst ex-offenders. I would encourage other banks to play their part in providing accounts for prisoners so all inmates can have this opportunity."

Steve Taylor, Kaylx's deputy director at HMP Forest Bank, added: "These bank accounts play a huge part in helping to reduce reoffending. By aiding social inclusion, prisoners are enabled to feel part of the wider community, minimising the chance of them returning to crime."

Paul A Jones, from the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University, concluded: "Access to a bank account is a key element in the process of prisoner resettlement, it is not the panacea for reducing re-offending rates but it can have a positive impact.

"Its importance is now being increasingly recognised and it is good to see a growing number of prisons follow the lead set by The Co-operative Bank and HMP Forest Bank by assisting prisoners with opening a bank account and helping them to use it effectively."

Since the scheme began, The Co-operative Bank has opened more than 4,000 basic bank accounts for prisoners and has relationships with 30 prisons - around one in five of all UK prisons.