Posted on March 15, 2019 by staff

Coding to be taught in prison


Prisoners will be taught coding to prepare them for work as part of plans to help marginalised groups become skilled in tech.

CODE 4000, an organisation that works with carefully vetted offenders and has led a successful trial at HMP Humber, Yorkshire, has been given new funding by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to expand its scheme to HMP Holme House in County Durham.

The £100,000 award will reach more than a thousand more offenders and also fund a new employment hub in Sheffield, providing support, mentoring and training for graduates once they have left prison.

“Code4000 workshops are reducing re-offending at a measurable rate, because we keep in touch with our graduates,” said Neil Barnby, CODE 4000 workshop instructor at HMP Humber.

“We are constantly seeing success after success. When I started teaching in prisons I thought that if I could change just one life, turn one person away from crime then I have achieved something truly marvellous.

“I look back on the years that I have been teaching coding in prisons and can see all the lives I have had a part in changing for the better.

“It is an enormous sense of achievement and with this funding I look forward to changing even more lives.”

The programme is modelled on the Last Mile project in the San Quentin prison in California which has helped almost 500 offenders with a zero per cent reoffending rate.

To tackle reoffending – which costs society around £15 billion a year – the Government has launched the Education and Employment Strategy which aims to create a system where each prisoner is set on a path to employment from the outset.

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “I want to see more offenders learning the kind of workplace skills which can set them on a path to a better future, which is precisely why we launched our Education and Employment Strategy last year.

“Code 4000 is an excellent example of what can be achieved through education and training in prison.

“It not only helps offenders turn their lives around but also benefits society by reducing the chances of their reoffending, and I am delighted to see it receive this further funding.”

Offenders take part in a four-stage programme from initial training to developing the technical skills to qualify as full-time developer and find employment on release. The courses are led by volunteers and industry experts.

This employment hub in Sheffield will help them into work, stay in work and out of prison, and give back to their communities.