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Prisons (Literacy)

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

When a literacy need is identified on arrival in prison, prisoners are offered teaching and support as a matter of priority. In 2014 we are introducing increased assessment for prisoners, including reading skills, to ensure that we maximise the benefits of the literacy support that is available.

The Secretary of State has spoken of his vision of custody as “education with detention”. If serious efforts are made in prison to deal with illiteracy, will probation officers absolutely ensure that that continues on release?

I think my hon. Friend refers to a quote that is specifically about the youth estate, but he is absolutely right that education is just as important in the adult estate. Too many prisoners cannot read and write properly, which means that their chances of securing employment on release are much reduced. Under our reforms of rehabilitation, we will expect providers to ensure that someone is supported not only through the gate, but in the community for at least 12 months. One of the best ways of supporting them to stay free of crime is to make sure that they get employment, so I would absolutely expect them to be interested in literacy as well as many other things.

The right hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Sir Andrew Stunell) was already looking excited, but I imagine his excitement will now be boundless.