Prisons: Employment

Justice written question – answered on 25th June 2014.

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Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many hours per week of purposeful activity was undertaken by offenders in each security category in (a) 2011-12, (b) 2012-13 and (c) 2013-14.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The information requested is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Work in prisons is a key priority to ensure prisoners are engaged purposefully while they are in custody. It also gives them the opportunity to learn skills and a work ethic which can increase their chances of finding employment on release, a key element to reducing reoffending.

The number of prisoners working in industrial activity in public sector prisons increased from around 8,600 in 2010-11 (the first year for which figures are available) to around 9,700 in 2012-13. This delivered an increase in the total hours worked in industrial activities from 10.6 million hours to 13.1 million hours. Private sector prisons have also been supporting this agenda and have reported that they delivered over 1.5 million prisoner working hours in commercial and industrial workshops in 2012-13 which provided work for over 1,200 prisoners.

In addition, there are substantial number of prisoners who work on tasks such as cooking, serving meals, maintenance and cleaning as part of the prison’s day-to-day running.

Figures for public sector prisons are published in the NOMS Annual Report Management Information Addendum, available at:

Figures for 2013-14 will be published in July.

Our reforms to the incentives and earned privileges national policy framework came into effect in adult prisons on 1 November 2013. Prisoners will be expected to engage in purposeful activity, as well as demonstrate a commitment towards their rehabilitation, reduce their risk of reoffending, behave well and help others if they are to earn privileges.

Information on purposeful activity in each prison and category of prison was published annually in the Prison Performance Digest up until 2011-12 and can be found at the following location:

The data were not collected at individual prisoner level and therefore it is not possible to break this historical data down by security category of prisoner.

Please note that figures are not available after 2011-12. Purposeful activity was formerly a performance indicator for prisons, but was discontinued at the start of 2012-13. The indicator was not used in the day-to-day management of prisons and NOMS had concerns over the burden on the front line of collecting the information. Indicators introduced into prison SLAs in respect of rehabilitation, resettlement and work in prisons provide a better demonstration of efforts to prepare prisoners for release and reduce reoffending.

Figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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