Unlocking value

The economic benefit of arts in the criminal justice sector

Re-offending costs the government between £9.5bn and £13bn each year. Two in five adult prisoners are convicted again within a year of release. Yet many charities are successfully harnessing the transformative power of art to help reduce these numbers.

The arts have long been used to help rehabilitate offenders or improve the life chances of those at risk of getting involved in crime. There are plenty of stories of people whose lives have been changed by their involvement with arts organisations, yet arts charities traditionally struggle to provide hard evidence of the difference their work makes.

The criminal justice sector in particular is often targets-driven, and arts charities working with prisoners and ex-offenders are under increasing pressure to provide evidence of their impact. This report looks at three charities using art to work with prisoners and ex-offenders: Clean Break, Only Connect and Unitas. It calculates the money these charities’ work saves the criminal justice system, putting forward the economic case for investment in arts charities.

 I am lucky to be alive. It wasn’t just the performing at Only Connect which gave me confidence but the level of support I received as well.

Vince, Only Connect member