Oakwood and Drake Hall inmates working in prison call centres

HMP Oakwood The Ministry of Justice said inmates could not see sensitive information

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Convicted criminals in the West Midlands are being paid to work in call centres inside their prisons.

Inmates at HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, and Drake Hall, in Staffordshire, carry out market research for insurance companies.

The Centre for Crime Prevention said the project was "incredibly naive".

But the Ministry of Justice said it was a pilot scheme which may be rolled out further if it is successful, and added the prisoners have risk assessments.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "We do not want prisoners sitting idle in their cells when they should be working towards their rehabilitation.

Sensitive information

"We prepare offenders for work inside prison so they can get a job after release - this reduces the chances that they will reoffend in the future, meaning lower crime and fewer victims.

"All prisoners working in call centres are risk-assessed and stringent security measures are in place, with calls supervised and recorded."

She said the small pilots are being monitored and would only be increased to other prisons if they were deemed successful.

She added the workers cannot see sensitive information about the people they are calling, such as addresses.

The phone numbers of customers are also protected as all calls are routed through a computer.

"At no point can they ask the value of items, record data outside of the secure systems or deviate from a carefully-worded script," she added.

The spokeswoman could not say whether any other prisons have similar schemes, nor which companies run the ones mentioned above.

She confirmed the work is taking place within the confines of the prisons.

On their websites, both facilities say work opportunities are available for inmates.

'Risk assessed'

Alex Hewson from the Prison Reform Trust said they supported the scheme.

"We encourage this type of scheme because it develops skills that may prove to be useful for the workplace generally, and gives prisoners a greater chance of getting employment on release," he said.

"I can understand why there may be concerns but the scheme is risk-assessed and I think it's really important those people get opportunities to help them resettle."

A statement from G4S, which runs HMP Oakwood prison, said: "The call centre at HMP Oakwood is one of many partnerships we run with businesses, and enables prisoners to work towards apprenticeships and industry-recognised qualifications.

"All the prisoners are carefully security checked and interviewed before working in the centre, calls are made remotely by computer, and every conversation is closely monitored by supervisors. No information from the calls is stored and there is no way any personal information can be used for any criminal purposes."

Oakwood is a male prison and Drake Hall is for female offenders.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    they should not be placed anywhere near personal data
    "[A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice] said the workers cannot see sensitive information about the people they are calling, such as addresses and phone numbers."

    If only your reading comprehension were as good as your professed skiing expertise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    Tories promote it as 'on the job training'

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.


    "As comment 52 already said they should be made to do the jobs that no one really wants to to like cleaning the streets..."

    I would much prefer to clean streets than work in a call centre.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    If we are not carefull Locking People up will be the only industry this country will have.
    As long at the Queen is making money of this, who cares?

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    How very funny, insurance companies using people to do market research they wouldn't actually insure themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    sally you make my point perfectly you wrote about me in the singular ,yet you have done the same to almost everyone on here,is it to much to join the dots is that beyond you or would that mean,it would be much harder for you to defend the trash you write,because everyone else is joining the dots,you can not fool all the people all the time or in your case any of the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    425. Vboulderer

    You may want to check the correct usage of a possessive apostrophe before you make a comment like that next time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    460. Politicans - No interest in the people
    "So, what is the problem..."

    Interesting.... you think that not one single person currently unemployed is out of work because they have a criminal conviction?

    This HYS is getting crazier. Normally the 2.5M are job shy benefit scroungers. A real sea change today.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    State-enforced cheap Labour by prisoners to profit-maximising Corporate friends of career Politicians while millions unemployed and millions more enduring financial hardship.

    Only in a corrupt, crony-Corporatist society could this happen.

    I am sick of Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    4 Minutes ago


    You can't just go and get a job. I've applied to everything from sweeping up to jobs which had the same title as my thesis with no luck what-so-ever. Everyone I know who has a job either got it 8-10 years ago or if they got it more recently are working for family.

    You can in a call centre. I can find a job today doing that work if i needed it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.


    "So, what is the problem..."


  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    The concerns people have about this creating a pool of cheap labour are valid. But two things strike me:

    - you can find reasons not to do most things if you look long and hard enough;

    - at some point these people will find themselves back in society.

    As long as it's done in low numbers and not moving towards large-scale cheap labour, I don't see a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    If you can teach a element of society that work can be fulfilling and help them build personal confidence of a future then there is hope.

    I’m sure most prisoners are remorseful once they lost their freedom. We could suggest they’re beaten and humiliated on a daily basis, but I don’t see how that does us any favours in the long run once those people leave prison.

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    Everything about this scheme screams "RIDICULOUS".

    It's just a shame they didn't have it in place last year, with G4S running the show we could have had a load of convicts doing security for the Olympics! Wouldn't that have been a giggle..?!


  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    If I am ever in the position where I have the power to employ someone, I will never choose someone who has been to prison and got experience,.."

    So basically you want ex-offenders out of work with nothing to do all day. How is this policy going to make you feel safer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    If I find out which insurance companies are using prisoners, I'll not be using that company for insurance or anything else again. I don't want to have anything to do with criminals and the idea of one of them calling my house is abhorrent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    This must be the Cameron 'joke of the year', alongside his total screwing-up the education system, and, his government Establishment readying itself to steal work earned pensions - Little Italy! it appears the full-scale version is here already...

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    @408.Sally the contrarian
    'People in the developing world choose those jobs, rather than starving to death '
    So u are for ppl being exploited so u can have cheap goods. I pity you for being such a shallow person. Am willing 2 bet u will be the first to complain as prices start to rise as the global economy equalizes. U claim to be a libertarian but have no real grasp of what it means. U r a fraud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    Just realised the organisation that was replaced by the army for the Olympics is in charge of the prisons involved with this nutty idea. Now those running this country really are stark raving bonkers! I TOO AM FURIOUS

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Brings a whole new meaning to the term "chained to your desk".
    If insurance companies were forced to pay a proper wage into a victims compensation fund, then this might work. I suspect they wouldn't. otherwise I agree with others who have commented on this being no more than cheap labour, denying unemployed people of good character, a chance of employment.


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