Prisoners could work in call centres in job opportunity drive

Prison inmate The government hopes to reduce reoffending rates by making prisoners more employable

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The Ministry of Justice is considering setting up call centres in prisons to increase prisoner work opportunities.

The plan is "one thing that could be considered" as part of efforts to make prisoners more employable when they finish their sentences.

No call centres are currently being run in prisons, but ministers are not ruling out such a scheme in the future.

Inmates already carry out a range of paid tasks including laundry services and printing.

The government wants to "transform prisons into industrious places of productive work" and make a 40-hour working week the norm.

'Sensitive information'

It hopes to reduce reoffending rates by making prisoners more employable when they are released.

A new scheme, One3one Solutions - which replaced the Prisons Industries Unit earlier this year - has been tasked with growing the amount of work available in prisons.

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Prisoners who learn the habit of real work inside prison are less likely to commit further crime when they are released”

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It works with over 190 organisations which pay prisoners to carry out work for them.

These include companies such as DHL, the high street chain Timpson and Amaryllis, which has used prisoners to help provide recycled furniture and fittings for the Olympic Games.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the MoJ acknowledged a number of questions would need answering before it would be appropriate to set up a call centre in a prison, given it would mean prisoners coming into direct contact with the public and, potentially, handling sensitive information.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Prisoners who learn the habit of real work inside prison are less likely to commit further crime when they are released.

"For that reason the Prisons Service is looking at a number of potential schemes to increase work opportunities in prisons. However, no call centres are being run from prisons.

"All contracts with outside employers must comply with a strict code of practice which sets out that prisoners cannot be used to replace existing jobs in the community.

"Prisoner wages, for those in closed prisons, are set by prison governors and companies have no control over the level of payment."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    As an ex-offender who has spent time in prison, I believe that this could provide some prisoners with an excellent opportunity to gain experience, providing that other education is provided as well.
    Hopefully the profit made from only paying prisoners £10 a week while companies pay much more, will be put back into the prisons themselves, making them less of a drain on the tax payer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Wow. I sure hope this doesn't go through. After many years of being a 'prison' nurse, there are some very interesting mind-sets in there, and if prisoners can use this deviously, to their own advantage, they will certainly do so.Whether it is stolen phone parts, drug orders, or harassing the public this will definitely be misused by some, (though not all).

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Another example of slavery in the UK, hate dealing with call centres and the possibility I'd have to deal with a criminal wold put me off.

    If theres a job then it should be filled with an unemployed person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    It all depends on what you see prison as - a place for rehabilitation or punishment.

    If it is the former then work opportunities must be the way to go otherwise just lock them up and throw away the key.

    Mind you, what will all the graduates do once their jobs have been taken away from them?


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