1000th prisoner banks on fresh start

August 19, 2010

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 almost 5,000 basic bank accounts for prisoners and has relationships with 30 prisons - around one in five of all UK prisons.


Notes to Editors:

The study ‘Still banking on a fresh start - progress report on the impact of The Co-operative Bank’s project to enable prisoners to open basic bank accounts’ was published by Paul A Jones from the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion, Liverpool John Moores University - December 2009.

The research found re-offending rates lower than the national average across all prisoner categories and highlighted the important role access to bank accounts can play - not only in the effective resettlement and rehabilitation of prisoners, but also with longer-term social and financial inclusion.

The detailed research amongst 107 ex-offenders, who opened a bank account before being released from Forest Bank prison, shows that the re-offending rate was well below the national average. In the key category of prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months the national re-offending rate is 59.9 per cent but amongst those with a bank account only 39 per cent re-offended - a reduction of 34.8 per cent.

27 of the prisoners in the sample were aged 21-24 and of those, 25.9 per cent re-offended within twelve months of release - a reduction of more than 37 per cent on the national re-offending rate for this group


About The Co-operative Financial Services

The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) is part of The Co-operative Group, which is the world’s largest consumer co-operative with around five million members, over £14 billion turnover, and core business interests in financial services, food, travel, pharmacy and funeral care. The Co-operative Group has over 5,000 retail trading outlets.

Following the merger with Britannia Building Society on 1 August 2009 CFS is one of the largest and well diversified mutual businesses operating in both retail and corporate markets.

As part of The Co-operative Group, the new business is characterised by its unique ethical and member reward policies and very high levels of customer advocacy.

The combined business has £70 billion in assets, 12,000 staff and nine million customers. It has over 300 high street branches, 20 corporate banking centres and a major presence in Manchester, London, Leek, Bristol, Plymouth, Skelmersdale and Stockport.

It is the only mutual organisation that enables its members to earn financial rewards for the products they hold, as well as giving them the opportunity to have a say in how the business is run.


For more information contact:

Andrew Torr
The Co-operative Group Press Office
0161 827 5622
e-mail: andrew.torr@britannia.co.uk

Dave Smith
The Co-operative Group Press Office
0161 827 5614
07702 152771
e-mail: dave.smith@co-operative.coop

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