Supporting self-employment as a pathway to a crime free future

Supporting self-employment as a pathway to a crime free future

Towards the end of last year, the Office of National Statistics published its latest results on re-offending which makes for a somber read. It states that the re-offending rate stands at 23.1% for the period October to December 2020. In that period, 21,000 of the people re-offended - resulting in 74,000 proven re-offences. The Ministry of Justice report (Economic and Social Costs of Re-offending) published in 2019 calculated that re-offending costs more than £18billion per annum.

David Morgan (CF 2018, centre right) Download 'David Morgan 1'
"My Churchill Fellowship has informed my thoughts and activities massively...Over the last three years I am proud to have been able to develop a range of learning programmes and support services that are accessed both in custody and in the community."

At a time when there are significant pressures on the economy, with the government looking at ways to bring down the national debt and balance the budget, it is clear to me that that reducing re-offending is a way to contribute to this goal. Apart from the economic issues, surely, we wish to live in a society where less crimes are committed and therefore less victims of crime?

Four years on from my travels to the US to explore how entrepreneurship can enable a person to lead a crime free life, these latest stark facts inspired me to reflect on my own research and recommendations, which included:

Whilst in custody: enable the person to recognise that entrepreneurship is not just about setting up and running a business, but also about their value to a potential employer and society upon release. Recognising and developing a talent early on in their sentence can put them on the right track, so that they can engage in appropriate education and vocational training programmes.

Develop a system to track an individual’s progress and showcase their personal growth, and not just their academic progress. This should start in custody and continue post release.

Post release: Collaborate with organisations that can provide resources and access to a business incubator that can enable people to learn how to set up and run a business in a supportive environment, and test trade to gain vital skills and knowledge. If possible, develop ways to sell their products / services to develop a small fund to assist trading legally.

Utilise a network of specialist and like-minded organisations that can provide support in areas such as housing, employment, personal finance and health / wellbeing.

Influence change with commissioners: Provide evidence so they can recognise the value of a long-term approach, and the need to fund programmes of this type.

My Churchill Fellowship has informed my thoughts and activities massively. Not only has it provided me with knowledge, but it was also a catalyst for personal change. I decided to walk the talk and set up my own Social Enterprise – Entrepreneurs Unlocked CIC at the end of 2019.

Over the last three years I am proud to have been able to develop a range of learning programmes and support services that are accessed both in custody and in the community. Over 500 people in that time have been able to consider self-employment as a pathway to a crime free future. This might have been just listening to a talk, taking part in learning programme, or being coached to set up and start trading.

One such example is Mark (not his real name). He was charged with importing class A drugs and sentenced to 16 years in custody. Once released, he was struggling to re-adjust to civilian life. Mark was interested in becoming self-employed but he had no idea where to start. He was referred to Entrepreneurs Unlocked for tailored support and has now started his own business as a bespoke furniture maker and flooring sander.

Mark said of his support: “I am lost for words, thank you so much for what you’ve done for me, my direction is good now, I feel stronger and can see what I’ve got to do, again many thanks”

Gaining further knowledge and experience has meant that I am able to influence the future of how people can lead crime free lives. I am humbled to sit on the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group. This group is an advisory group for The Ministry of Justice and HM Prisons and Probation Service.

As part of Entrepreneurs Unlocked, I recently organised a Hidden Entrepreneur event inside a prison attended by over 50 people to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week. The event involved listening to inspiring stories from our six guest speakers, three Hidden Entrepreneurs (prisoners due for release in 2023 who have been on self-employment programmes) pitching their work and a speed networking session where great connections were made. Our special guest was the new Minister of State for Prisons, Parole and Probation, Damian Hinds.

One area of discussion was about the capital needed to start up, and not just financial but social capital, and the need to develop positive networks. I was blown away, as were the three Hidden Entrepreneurs, with the 50+ pledges of support made by the attendees. This ranged from support to register with HMRC and free accounting software, to access to further construction training and skills development, to marketing, networking, and mentoring.

I am delighted to say that my next step is launching a business incubator, with the ongoing support of the Churchill Fellowship from an Activate Grant. The aim is to support 25 people to develop their entrepreneurial skill and set up as many small businesses as possible. This project is incorporated into a specialist organisation that provides wrap around support for prison leavers.

Every day, I am thankful and proud to be a Churchill Fellow. I recall being told that the travelling part is just one element, and if you take the opportunity, it can change your life. It most certainly has.

Further information about David’s work can be found at:


The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.


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