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Chelmsford Prison: Education

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what percentage of (a) prisoners and (b) young offenders in HM Prison Chelmsford he estimates have literacy problems. (254752)

The Department does not routinely make estimates of the percentage of offenders, by establishment, with literacy problems. The first report from the Ministry of Justice’s Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction study (“The problems and needs of newly sentenced prisoners: results from a national survey”, October 2008) showed that 48 per cent. of young offenders starting a new prison sentence and 46 per cent. of adult offenders starting a new prison sentence had no academic or vocational qualifications.

The principle of screening all offenders, with a full assessment of those who take up learning, lies at the heart of offender learning and skills delivery. Following the October 2008 Public Accounts Committee report, we are working closely with the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the screening and assessment process. Later this year, the Learning and Skills Council will introduce a new screening tool, developed in consultation with Dyslexia Action, to screen for a range of learning difficulties.