Coding training for prisoners set for expansion

Code 4000 is to teach code to more prisoners and set up an employment hub for offenders looking for tech roles when they are released.

Joe Lepper | 15th Mar 19
Image shows Code 4000 student working on web development skills Image credit: Code 4000

A not-for-profit scheme that teaches prisoners coding and offers them tech sector job opportunities is to expand after being awarded a £100,000 government grant.

Community interest company Code 4000 already offers coding training for prisoners at HMP Humber, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and support in gaining tech sector roles.

As part of a commitment to help under represented groups get jobs the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) has announced it is to fund an expansion of the scheme into HMP Holme House, Stockton-on-Tees.

All prisoners that take part are carefully vetted.

In addition, the £100,000 grant will fund an employment hub in Sheffield, to provide support, mentoring and further training to prisoners involved when they are released.

Code 4000 is also looking to develop a network of coding workshops across the UK’s secure estate as part of its work, which is modelled on the Last Mile project in San Quentin prison, California.

“Code 4000 workshops are reducing re-offending at a measurable rate, because we keep in touch with our graduates,” said Neil Barnby, a Code 4000 Workshop Instructor at HMP Humber.

“We are constantly seeing success after success. When I started teaching in prisons I thought that if I could change just one life, turn one person away from crime then I have achieved something truly marvellous.

“I look back on the years that I have been teaching coding in prisons and can see all the lives I have had a part in changing for the better.

“Not just the ex-offenders but their families and, more importantly their children. It is an enormous sense of achievement and with this funding I look forward to changing even more lives.”

Stopping the cycle of reoffending

Minister for Digital Margot James added: “The government is committed to stopping the cycle of reoffending and a valuable asset to prevent recidivism is employment.

“Equipping offenders with coding skills will help them into life-changing work and give them a path to a hugely rewarding career.

“We have a world-leading digital economy and this new funding will help keep people out of prison so they can give back to their local communities as well as be a boost for our tech businesses.”

Code 4000 won a Vodafone Techstarter award earlier this year for its coding training for prisoners.