Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, announced yesterday that the Diocese of Westminster would lead the way in the Church in 'banning the box', in order to give more reformed offenders the opportunity to gain employment.

Warmly praising the work of Pact, the Cardinal also called for major reform of the prison system to create more humane environments in which prisoners could build hope for a better future and experience real rehabilitation.

The Cardinal's speech was made on the opening day of the annual conference of Catholic prison chaplains, at which Pact's CEO, Andy Keen-Downs, together with Anne Fox of CLINKS, gave talks and ran a workshop on how chaplains, parishes and charities might do more together to offer the chance of a fresh start to ex-prisoners, and to support prisoners' children and families.

Commenting on the speech, Andy Keen-Downs said:

'Cardinal Vincent's moral and practical leadership in signing up the Diocese of Westminster to the #banthebox campaign is inspiring. I hope that all Catholic and Anglican Dioceses, and other church and faith institutions that haven't already done this will feel encouraged to quickly follow his example.'

To read Cardinal Vincent's speech in more detail, please click here: Catholic church leader says some UK prisons are a stain on society | Society | The Guardian.