Now Ministry of Justice is to set up call centres in JAILS because prisoners have ‘British regional accents’
Work experience: Ministers believe the plan will get offenders out of their cells and used to the world of work
Ministers are considering setting up call centres inside jails.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s department is looking at inviting companies to set up offices in prisons, where inmates would man the phones.
It means people ringing their bank or a large store could end up having their calls answered by an offender.
The aim is to try to get prisoners used to the world of work.
A promotional leaflet claimed the scheme amounted to a ‘fantastic rehabilitation revolution’, and boasted that prison-run call centres could offer trained operators ‘with British regional accents as an effective alternative to off-shoring operations’.
The Ministry of Justice said setting up call centres inside prisons was one of many options for providing inmates with more work.
Details of the plans emerged after the Daily Mail reported on Thursday that inmates from Prescoed prison near Usk in Monmouthshire are being paid Â£15 a day to work in a call centre selling solar panels and home insulation to the public.
The ministry has struck a controversial deal to give the day-release prisoners work experience at the South Wales environmental roofing company Becoming Green.
Plans for call centres inside jails are outlined in marketing material from a company called UrbanData.
Boasts: A leaflet detailing the plans boasted that prison-run call centres could offer trained operators ‘with British regional accents as an effective alternative to off shoring operations’, such as this call centre in India
The flyer, sent out to businesses that might want to open a call centre, said the scheme had government support.
‘Working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, we are establishing call centres inside prisons,’ it said.
Plans: Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s department is a looking at inviting companies to set up offices in prisons, where inmates would man the phones
‘We are training prisoners to become qualified contact centre operators.’
The firm said it could offer ‘lower costs and overheads’ than other call centre firms.
UrbanData went into liquidation last month, but the ministry is understood still to be interested in the idea.
David Cameron has urged businesses to take advantage of the range of opportunities working prisoners offer.
The Ministry of Justice said: ‘Prisoners who learn the habit of real work inside prison are less likely to commit further crime when they are released.
All contracts with outside employers must comply with a strict code of practice which sets out that prisoners cannot be used to replace existing jobs in the community.’