The Escape Key

Hosted by HMP Humber

In 2022, placing an individual in prison costs on average £48,000 per annum. With over 80,000 prisoners in the UK currently, this amounts to a total annual cost of £3.87 billion.

But with limited work opportunities available to former offenders upon their release, around 60% of UK prisoners reoffend within the first two years of leaving prison, further adding to the billions of pounds spent on incarceration each year, and allowing cycles of crime to continue. The total social and economic cost of re-offending costs the UK in excess of £18 billion every year.

The coding workshop at HMP Humber seeks to turn the tide on re-offending. By giving prisoners the opportunity to develop technical skills, work on real-world projects, and build their commercial portfolio during their sentence, it presents former offenders with a viable career alternative post-prison. Working closely with tech employers, Code4000 support graduates of the HMP Humber coding workshop into tech roles on completion of their sentence, and has been creating real, tangible, life-changing outcomes. Some of their employer partners include Metro Bank, Lloyds Bank, Fat Beehive and the Ministry of Justice.

To date, the coding workshop has a 100% success rate in reducing re-offending, and since its inception, has seen growing numbers of prisoners graduate.

Join us for ‘The Escape Key” at Leeds Digital Festival as we unpack the hidden talent in UK prisons, and hear from a panel of employers, prison leavers, workshop staff and strategic partners on how teaching coding skills in UK prisons is helping to reduce re-offending, improve lives, and save public money.


Event Host:


Neil Barnby

Neil has worked in prisons since 2002, starting initially as a teacher of Mathematics, ICT, Catering and Business Skills. He currently still works on the front line with prisoner. He has worked with prisoners of all levels including young offenders, sex offenders, drug dealers and users as well as murderers and ‘white collar’ crimes. He developed a program in prison that teaches prisoners Tech skills and gets them into work, which has had a 0% recidivism rate over 5 years compared to the 60% national average. This project has won awards and been duplicated in across the world.

Lisa Jackson

Lisa is the Prison Leaver and Lived Experience Lead for Going Forward into Employment (GFIE) – a government wide scheme aimed at providing life chances for people through the provision of employment opportunities in the civil service. With a background in HR, Lisa started her Civil Service career in Prisons and Probation including working within HMP Leeds, which sparked a longstanding interest in inclusive recruitment and increasing the variety of employment opportunities for people with convictions. She is keen to share experiences and best practice with other employers in order to create positive change in this area.


Will Gill

Will has lived experience within the Prison System at a younger age. In 2018 Will founded Escalating, a full service digital agency with a focus on childcare and hospitality clients. He is passionate about creating opportunities for prison leavers to find work in modern, progressive industries to provide a sustainable and positive future for themselves. With the digital industry now a major player in the UK economy, Will is keen to open doors and create opportunities for ex-offenders to break the crime cycle and create a better tomorrow.


Jon Brighton

Jon is a Lead Software Developer at the Ministry of Justice. He joined as a Civil Servant three years ago and is helping to build modern digital services to support prison and probation staff and reduce administrative burden. Jon volunteers at HMP Humber to talk with those in the coding workshop, offering guidance, encouragement and support.


Mark Howells

Mark is the Founder of Konnektis, a Leeds-based technology and services company that focuses on the eLearning and healthcare innovation sectors.



Careers & Education, Coding & Software Development, Diversity and Inclusion
The Escape Key
28th Sep 2022 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Hosted by HMP Humber
Platform, New Station St, Leeds LS1 4JB

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