PRISONERS released from jail in Cumbria are set to take part in a new scheme to cut reoffending.

Ex-offender employment specialist Offploy has been enlisted by the Department of Work and Pensions to get 348 prison leavers "work ready."

Re-offending costs taxpayers £16 billion a year. Part of the Government's new "prison leaver pilot" project, a peer-to-peer mentoring programme will aim to pair up those leaving jail with mentors who have lived experience of the criminal justice system.

Offploy will support the prisoners upon their release from jails HM Prison Haverigg in Cumbria, as well as others in Yorkshire, Lancashire, East Anglia, Birmingham, Solihull, North London, and Essex.

Jacob Hill, former prisoner and founder of Offploy, said: "While prison can often teach basic skills and even trades, it's typically the case that people don't have access to a bank account, have never created a CV, or feel concerned about how to discuss their criminal record with a potential employer.

“But, where individuals are supported into work upon their release, they are nine per cent less likely to reoffend.

"However, the perceived challenges associated with a life away from crime can sometimes act as a significant barrier, and drive some back into the lifestyle and habits they were previously trapped in.

“That’s why, when it comes to trying to prepare prison leavers for life in 'the real world', no-one can empathise and advise better than those who have been in that exact same position.

"Mentors can instil hope into the individuals on our programme by sharing their challenges and how they have overcome them – and we’re humbled to be a part of this scheme.”

Sixty-two per cent of Offploy's workforce have experienced the criminal justice system first-hand, and the organisation will recruit eight more people with convictions as peer mentors to deliver the programme, which runs until January 2022.

Minister for welfare delivery, Will Quince, said: “Offploy must be congratulated for doing everything they can to help give offenders the best possible chance upon release, allowing them to earn an honest living without returning to a life of crime.

"Helping prisoners find work is a crucial part of turning their lives around and cutting crime."