High Down inmates take call centre employment

Inmates at a prison in Surrey are being paid to work in a call centre as part of a government scheme to make it easier for them to find work upon release, it has emerged.

The Ministry of Justice said the scheme would help provide prisoners with "skills and experience".

The scheme at HMP High Down Prison in Banstead, Surrey, has been running for three weeks.

About 20 prisoners are working for the Census Data Group company.

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said the work, which is taking place within the confines of the prison, would make offenders more employable in the future. The inmates earn about £9.80 a week.

However, the Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers (POA) said prisoners should not be given "preferential treatment, by being placed into meaningful work".

Last year, it emerged inmates at HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, and Drake Hall, in Staffordshire, were carrying out market research for insurance companies.

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