Trustees and staff are delighted to announce that James Timpson OBE is to chair the Prison Reform Trust from April 2016. James is Chief Executive of Timpson, a family business of 1400 shops across the UK and Ireland. Named last week as one of the Sunday Times’ Britain’s 500 most influential people, he is well known and respected for his leading role in training, mentoring and employing former prisoners—with 10% of Timpson colleagues recruited directly from prison.

James is currently Chair of the Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending, a group of likeminded employers who offer a second chance to people with a criminal conviction. EFFRR members actively encourage other employers to recruit ex-offenders and guide businesses along the way to help maximise the success of any placements.

Speaking about his new role, James Timpson said:

“I’m delighted to be joining the Prison Reform Trust’s board and steering a charity with a strong track record of driving policy and practice change. I think everyone recognises that we can’t keep locking up 85,000 people today knowing that hardly any of them will manage to find work and that around 50% of them will be back in again within a year of release. There are currently too many people in prison, and we have a system that seems to keep bringing them back there time and time again—that has to stop.” 

We are pleased that Lord Woolf, who has served as Chair during the last four years, has kindly agreed to take on a new honorary role at the Prison Reform Trust.

The Rt Hon Lord Woolf CH said:

“During my time as Chair, I have seen prisons facing significant challenges in delivering the most basic of their functions—to keep people safe; and to ensure that they spend their time constructively, less likely to reoffend on release. James brings not only a desire to help people to stop offending, but success in achieving this, and I’m pleased that he has agreed to join us at this important time for prison reform.”

Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The arrival of James Timpson as new Chair marks a step change for the Prison Reform Trust as we gear up, not only to improve treatment and conditions in our overcrowded prisons, but also to reduce any needless use of imprisonment and its social and economic costs.”

James has also written a blog for the Huffington Post, which you can read by clicking here.