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”

End Quote Ministry of Justice

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 53.

    and i'm going to give my bank details or credit card details!!!
    this has not really been thought out has it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Great idea - many prisoners cannot get a job because they lack any work ethic or experience, so this will help them.

    Plus, the government spends a fortune of our money on telephone surveys and polls, which prisoners can easily do instead.

    So, we save tax payer money all round, although the left whingers will be up in arms as it doesn't involve hiring thousands of Guardian readers .

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    This is a new low even for the Tories.
    It is an offence for a prisoner to have a mobile phone while inside, so what does this dysfunctional Government do, give them an landline to carry on with their criminality and abuse people.
    You couldn`t make it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I'm sorry - How many unemployed do we have in this country? And all the Tories can think about is a way their big-business chums can get call-centres set up on the cheap...

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    'Prisoners could work in call centres'

    Brilliant we already have high levels of unemployment so lets further reduce job oppurtunities by introducing slave labour.

    I bet some Tory genius woke up in the middle of the night & started rubbing his hands in smug self-satisfaction when he thought of that one.

  • 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 47.

    Prisoners with access to databases & phone lines!!! personal details and peoples addresses. Why not give them a list of vulnerable pensioners and empty houses now? Or give them access to the outside world so they can plan better crimes from inside. Phone lines can operate code, bombs, trafficking, drugs etc. The government needs a course in modern technology. Their naivety is breathtaking!

  • 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 45.

    Crim: Hello?
    Woman: Hello
    Crim: How can I help you
    Woman: I’m calling about my gas heating
    Crim: Really, well how about you tell me what you’re wearin
    Woman: eh? Sorry?
    Crim: what are you wearin?
    Woman: a, a, a Jumper, can you send someone round to fix my heating.
    Crim: No, but I get out in a couple of days. And I’ll come round and keep you warm.
    Sorry couldn’t keep going – felt sick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    No one should worry; these prisoners are being rehabilitated and are very unlikely to keep personal details of those they are calling for future reference, or passing on that information to their 'friends' on the outside. We can all sleep safely in our beds knowing the MoJ thinks it is ok! Just more unsolicited phone calls to annoy the heck out of us all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    and where are they going to be employed in Indian call centres in India I think not ,,
    the majority of people in call centres in England pride themselves on delivering an excellent service to ad hoc questions / query's ,and to train prisoners up to take over their roles is stupefying.
    and to allow convicted criminals access to personal information or the vulnerable is beyond belief,

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    What!... you just couldn't make this up!

    The Cameron regime bombs the public with even more nonsense... LOL!

  • 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 40.

    Yet more jobs which should be available for the unemployed, being assigned to slave labour. Odd how the right are the first to criticise communism and *benefit scroungers*, whilst simultaneously condoing the removal of these positions from the job market. Another national disgace. Given the low level of literacy skills amongst prisoners, education would be a far better option

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Just when I thought I'd heard all the best stupid ideas from this government they come out with this one! Does this not now prove beyond doubt that they simply don't live in the real world? Not fit for or capable of government of anything let alone a supposed advanced country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Nothing surprises me with this lot. They will pay the prisoners to work in call centres and send the unemployed to workhouses. Oh yes and those scruffy young children who happen to be going hungry due to government cuts can earn a living up chimney's. Just like the good old days eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I didn't know it was becoming so hard to be a criminal these day.

    Good ol' government, allowing them an inside track and access to all our private data.

    Wait, think about it. At least the criminals would be interested in getting your information right. Who knows, something might actually get done. The last thing the criminals will want is wrong information.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    25. spluffy
    why not use them to check mp's expense claims.

    exactly, perhaps they could use the imprisoned MP's who committed the crime to do the checks, they know all the fiddles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    these tories will do ANYTHING to save a few bob. how when law abiding citizens cannot find work can they justify giving prisoners paid ( it will be ) work. give them work by all means eg digging ditches,mixing cement(by hand( unpaid of course).or if they have to be paid then give it to the victims of their crimes.

  • 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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