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Prison bank account scheme hailed

A pioneering bank account scheme for prisoners which is said to have reduced reoffending has reached a major milestone.

Researchers say reoffending rates at HMP Forest Bank in Salford, Greater Manchester, have dropped by a third after the introduction of the project.

The scheme run by the Co-operative Bank together with Kalyx, which manages the category B prison, was started as a pilot project in 2006.

The 1,000th inmate to open an account at HMP Forest Bank 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 forklift truck licence now and an account to put my wages in, it's great."

The scheme has been extended to a fifth of all UK prisons and more than 4,000 accounts have been opened.

Tim Franklin, chief operating officer of Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), said: "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 reoffending 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 reoffending 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, Kalyx's deputy director at HMP Forest Bank, said: "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."


From Belfast Telegraph