Huge workshop to “bring 400 jobs” for Oakwood prisoners
More evidence of the growing prison industrial complex and increased exploitation of prison labour…
A workshop the size of a football pitch will create 400 jobs for prisoners at a Midlands jail.
The building is being constructed at HMP Oakwood in Featherstone and has been supported by a government minister.
It could see companies relocate work that is currently done abroad to the site.
More than 40 companies, including the vehicle maintenance wing of BT and clothing company Dimensions, have already expressed interest and attended an open day to look at opportunities to relocate work to the UK and develop training for prisoners in specialist industries.
The building will also provide training opportunities and will be completed in the summer.
It comes as the jail is to increase the number of prisoners by 20 per cent to more than 2,000.
The facility will provide employment and training for up to 400 prisoners at the G4S-managed jail which already has inmates working in carpentry, plastics and plumbing assembling, refurbishing electrical appliances and at a call centre.
G4S says the scheme better equips prisoners for when they leave prison.
G4S director Jerry Petherick, said: “We know that offenders are less likely to re-offend if they gain employment after release and the expanded workshop will provide new opportunities for prisoners and businesses to contribute positively to society and reduce future victims of crime.
“Partnerships with businesses on the outside can provide a solid foundation on which prisoners can develop their skills and training and help to demonstrate their commitment to work to future employers.
” This kind of initiative has operated successfully in prisons for many years and I am encouraged that so many organisations have supported today’s event and are interested in giving something back to both prisoners and wider society.”
Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: “We need a prison system that doesn’t see prisoners as simply liabilities to be managed, but instead as potential assets.
“The skills training provided at HMP Oakwood is exactly the kind of meaningful training which gives prisoners a chance to turn their lives around for good through sustained job opportunities when they leave prison.
“By working together with local and national businesses and providing prisoners with vital skills they need to find work, we can help reduce re-offending, cut crime and make our streets safer.”
Carl Tennant, commercial director for clothing supplier Dimensions, said: “Dimensions is keen to work with local commercial organisations throughout our UK and overseas supply chain, in doing so supporting community projects. We look forward to seeing how we can work with G4S and being part of the Prison Industry workshop now and in the future.”
BT Fleet director Mark Wolfe said: “BT Fleet recognise the importance of this initiative and the difference it will make. We’re discussing with G4S what opportunities there are to collaborate to provide vehicle maintenance training and experience to support the prisoner rehabilitation programme.”
On Oakwood’s expansion, Mr Petherick added: “Decisions about the allocation of prisoners are made by the Ministry of Justice.
“Our priority is the safety of our staff and those they look after and we are working to recruit and train additional staff and expand our work and education placements accordingly.
“We are committed to working with the Ministry of Justice, local agencies and partners from across the criminal justice system so that every prisoner at Oakwood has access to opportunities which equip them to turn away from crime when they leave custody.”