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Prisoners: Education

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether prisoners are paid more to undertake work than to attend education or vocational training; if so, whether this is standard practice throughout the Prison Service; for how long has it been their policy; whether they have undertaken any research to examine the effect of the policy on prisoners undertaking education and training courses; and what additional measures they are taking to encourage prisoners to undertake education or training courses. [HL2494]

The policy on prisoners' wages is contained in Prison Service Order 4460 (a copy is in the Library) which sets out minimum levels of pay and requires prison governors to establish local pay schemes that provide an incentive for prisoners to achieve sentence plan targets which could include attending education and offending behaviour courses. This policy has been in place since 2002 and under local schemes there may be higher rates of pay either for education and training or for other activities in particular establishments.

There has been no research undertaken to examine the effect of this policy on prisoners undertaking education and training courses, however. The Learning and Skill's Council's document, Developing the Offenders Learning and Skills Service: the Prospectus, sets out a process for a full review of the vocational learning, by criminal justice area, planned to begin in 2008.

The Prison Service's Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme additionally encourages prisoners to engage with their sentence plan by rewarding prisoners for positive participation in constructive activity which, as well as work, includes education, training and offender behaviour courses.