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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

November 11, 2008: Independent Review Alleges Prison Service Incompetence

The Howard League for Penal Reform has published an independent evaluation of the world's first social enterprise based inside a prison that they argue highlights Prison Service incompetence. The charity established a graphic design studio inside a prison three years ago and ran it as a proper business until the Prison Service decided that prisoners could not pay tax or National Insurance. The studio is being closed down next month.

The experiment of real work in prison grew from research that exposed the dire state of employment in prisons. Work is mostly used to support the institution and is desultory, low paid and dull and seems designed to prove that crime is more exciting and lucrative. No prisoner pays tax or NI, instead the Prison Service emulates the informal economy paying cash in hand, thereby reinforcing the view that it is OK to avoid tax.

Despite incredible obstacles the Howard League  did manage to set up the graphic design studio in Coldingley prison, thanks - they say -  to some independent and thoughtful governors. The business flourished and the prisoners/employees paid tax and NI until the Prison Service insisted that prisoners could not be employed by outside employers and therefore could not pay tax. The whole amount they had paid was refunded.

Howard League director Frances Crook said:

"There are both profound points of principle and practical issues at stake. The record prison population includes 30,000 adult men serving sentences of more than four years. They spend all day pottering about aimlessly at our expense. It is interesting to note that the plans for Titan prisons include no workshops so those additional 5,000 prisoners will be idle. It appears that the Government prefers to foster idleness and criminal attitudes amongst prisoners rather then instill a work ethic and allow them to be productive."

"It is our contention that anyone sentenced to a long term of imprisonment because they have committed a serious and violent offence and who remains a danger to the community should be able to do a proper job, earn real money so they can support their families and buy any extras inside the prison. I am convinced this would have public support."

The evaluation, which was undertaken by Professor Penny Green at King's College, London, describes how the introduction of the ‘core day’ meant that hours in the workshop were cut and it is was simply not feasible to run the business.