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Prisoners: Literacy

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures are in place to improve the rate of literacy amongst prisoners; and what other measures are in place to increase the prospects of a prisoner obtaining employment on release from prison. (148065)

The Prison Service provides a range of educational services at each prison with particular focus on increasing proficiency in basic literacy and numeracy skills. On committal to prison individuals are assessed to determine their standard of literacy and numeracy and, where appropriate, the level of entry into the Essential Skills Programme. Literacy skills are further encouraged through the use of library services.

Employability potential is increased through a wide range of vocational training opportunities which include bricklaying, joinery, painting and decorating, IT, plastering and crafts.

Job search terminals are installed in each of the three prisons to provide prisoners with up-to-date job information and recently, at Magilligan Prison, a new pilot programme (GOALS) was launched to help prepare prisoners for release and employment. The Prison Service works closely with other statutory, voluntary and community organisations such as NIACRO and Business in the Community in sourcing potential employment opportunities for inmates on release.