PRISONERS at HMP Haverigg have embraced rehabilitation through learning, as figures show two-thirds of inmates at the Cumbrian prison take part in education programmes.

Aimed at helping prisoners committed to change, the courses offered tackle the yearly £15 billion cost of reoffending nationally.

The category C men's prison had a population of 287 on May 1, with 188 of those actively enrolled on education courses.

The most popular learning opportunity at the prison is a functional skills English and Maths course, with 90 active students, while 24 take part in vocational training courses.

Five take part in distance learning and Open University Courses, while 16 are involved in work-based training programmes in horticulture, facilities and laundry.

Last year, the University of Cumbria was nominated for a Times Higher Education Award for 'widening participation' following the establishment of their Learning Together programme.

Students and prisoners took part in theoretical discussions on criminology and forensic psychology, as well as inviting public figures from local judiciary and criminal justice systems to talk in the prison.

Seven prisoners were involved in the partnership in May 2018.

Dr Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Cumbria, said: "The course is going brilliantly.

"We have just completed our second year and to see it running is fantastic.

"This year we have continued to develop it quite a lot so we can offer different levels and subjects.

"The practical and collaborative way students learn has proved immensely successful. Prisoners gain an alternative perspective on their experience of the criminal justice system, and university students get a first-hand account from their peers."

Of the current prison population, prisoner's have achieved a total of 438 qualifications.

Prisons minister Rory Stewart said: "As our Education and Employment strategy sets out, we want prisons to be places of aspiration which propel offenders into employment.

"I want to congratulate the Prisoners’ Education Trust for their efforts to secure employment after release, which show the pivotal role education can play in helping offenders turn their lives around."

Many of the courses are backed by the Prisoners' Education Trust, a charity encouraging prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning.

It backs around 3,000 people each year for courses in subjects not generally available in prisons.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Reoffending is costing society approximately £15 billion a year.

"Effective rehabilitation needs prisoners to be willing to commit to change, take advice, learn new skills and take opportunities to work. For those individuals willing to engage, the prison system must deliver.

"The Education and Employment strategy will create a system where each prisoner is set on a path to employment from the outset.

The government strategy was launched in May to help adult prisoners access employment following a conviction.

Justice secretary David Gauke said: "A prison sentence rightly serves as a punishment, depriving someone of their liberty.

"However, for those offenders who are committed to change and who want to turn their backs on crime, prison should also serve as an impetus to help set them on a path to a better life.

"Following that path is good for them and it is also good for society as a whole. By moving ex-offenders off benefits and into work reduces the financial burden on taxpayers and the welfare state, reduces reoffending and, therefore, reduces the number of future victims of crime."