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DCMS announces new funding for prison coding skills

The expanded scheme by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is part of a a £1.2m package to help under-represented groups get jobs

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced new funding for coding education in prison as part of the UK government’s £1.2m package to help under-represented groups get into work.

The £100,000 award to Code 4000, the organisation that has run a successful trial at HMP Humber, will support the expansion of the scheme to HMP Holme House and reach an additional 1,000 offenders.

Under the expansion plans, a new employment hub will also be set up in Sheffield to provide support, mentoring and training for graduates once they have left prison. Code 4000 is also aiming to develop a network of coding workshops in UK prisons.

Code 4000 claims the UK prison coding programme – which is modelled on the Last Mile project in the San Quentin prison in California, where the re-offending rate for nearly 500 prisoners has dropped to 0% – has reduced re-offending “at a measurable rate”.

According to digital minister Margot James, the key objective of the coding programme is to keep people out of prison while providing a boost for UK tech businesses.

“The government is committed to stopping the cycle of re-offending, and a valuable asset to prevent recidivism is employment,” said James. “Equipping offenders with coding skills will help them into life-changing work and give them a path to a hugely rewarding career.”

In addition, the DCMS said more local Digital Skills Partnerships (DSPs) will be launched in various UK regions. The DSPs involve regional businesses, charities, local authorities and academics to provide digital skills to individuals and businesses.

Three such facilities launched last year in Lancashire, Heart of the South West and West Midlands Combined Authority. Three more Local Digital Skills Partnerships will be set up in the South East; Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; and Cheshire and Warrington.

Approximately 10 million people are expected to get access to the programme as a result of the expansion. According to the DCMS, more than 2.5 million free digital training sessions on basic online skills, cyber security and coding have been delivered through the facilities so far.

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