Paid work for prisoners defended
A council in Lancashire is defending its decision to employ two prisoners.
The inmates from Kirkham Prison are among seven people recruited as binmen by Fylde Council.
Christine Miller, Head of Partnerships at Fylde Borough Council said the inmates were employed as part of a scheme to "support rehabilitation and community integration."
But local business leader Steve Pye said it was "the right idea at the wrong time".
Ms Miller said: "Kirkham is a working prison - every inmate is required to work or they go elsewhere - and their services are used by many organisations within the local community and have been for many years.
"Every one of the 600 plus prisoners is in the final stage of their rehabilitation in preparation for integration into the local community."
HMP Kirkham is a category D training prison where inmates are trusted to serve their sentence in open conditions.
Inmates close to the end of their sentence are eligible to apply for paid work.
Ms Miller added: "The selection process was carried out in accordance with the procedures in place at Fylde and every candidate was treated equally with the selection based on their ability and interview.
"Many organisations have policies that support rehabilitation and community integration and allow rehabilitating offenders to apply for appropriate vacant posts - Fylde has this arrangement as part of the partnership with the prison."
Steve Pye of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Federation of Small Businesses said: "There needs to be more transparency on such schemes.
"It is the right activity to stop people reoffending when they come out of prison but it is the wrong time with the recession.
"In the current economic climate jobs are few and far between and it is dog eat dog.
"There are people losing their jobs and two and a half million people on the dole. Its hard to justify prisoners being given jobs. "