The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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James Timpson’s appointment: a glimpse of grace

Newly elected prime minister Keir Starmer wasted little time in announcing his first cabinet following the Labour Party’s general election victory on 4 July.

Amidst the flurry of appointments, one in particular caught the media’s eye: the new prisons minister. James Timpson is CEO of the ‘Timpson’ retailer, and until very recently, chair of the Prison Reform Trust.

He’s now facing the task of fixing a creaking prison system. Projections from the Institute for Government suggest that the UK’s prisons could be just ‘days away’ from running out of cells.

Timpson’s company, renowned for key cutting, shoe repair, and dry cleaning, is also notable for its business ethos – an ethos that, perhaps controversially, Timpson now intends to apply to criminal justice policy.

People leaving prison are routinely employed by Timpson outlets on their release, with the company claiming that this drastically reduces the risk of re-offending – all the while providing the individual with an all-important second chance.

A second chance for the captive. This is beginning to sound familiar.

Isaiah says the Lord has sent him ‘to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners’ (Isaiah 61:1). Christians have often associated the saving grace of Christ with the idea of being released from captivity. Many of our worship songs refer to chains being broken or similar imagery.

But as much as the point is to refer to the astonishing forgiveness we have received as a sinful, broken people, so too is the emphasis on what comes next – our second chance.

Timpson’s appointment should encourage us, if it means a biblical message of redemption is applied to prison policy. Of course, justice must still be served. But it’s also important to give everyone a second chance at rehabilitation and participation in a peaceful, harmonious society that gives them the opportunity to thrive.

And just as this appointment made by the new prime minister seems to suggest a narrative of forgiveness, grace, love, and redemption, so too can we apply these intrinsically biblical values in our own spheres of influence.

This week, whether in your workplace or among friends or family, you’ll likely have an opportunity to extend a second chance to someone who has wronged you – and perhaps you’ll need to receive a second chance from someone you’ve wronged. Either way, may we as disciples of Christ live as people of redemption.

Sam Brown
Church Advocate, LICC


  1. Interesting.
    Tom and Jerry ice cream in the USA have a similar policy of employing newly discharged offenders with a similar, I suspect, level of success.

    By John Parker  -  12 Jul 2024
  2. Some good thoughts – thank you!

    By John Leonard Kenyon  -  12 Jul 2024
  3. Inspired

    By Phyllida Bowser  -  12 Jul 2024

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