Committee calls for better prison education

An influential committee of MPs is warning that prison education is “unacceptable” and is not helping to reduce re-offending levels.

In a report published today, the House of Commons Education and Skills committee finds that half of prison inmates lack the skills to do 96 per cent of jobs when released.

It also finds that one third of prisoners have no access to education facilities while serving their sentence, only 31 out of 75,000 prisoners have access to the internet, and more than 50 per cent of male prisoners have no qualifications at all.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the committee, says: “Although the Government has increased resources for prison education, it has not fully met its manifesto commitment to ‘dramatically increase the quality and quantity of education provision’.”

He adds that re-offending currently costs the British taxpayer around £11 billion per year and that improved prison education could help inmates develop the skills needed to enter the job market.

Steve Taylor, director of the Forum on Prisoner Education, said: “The time has come for us to overhaul education for offenders to ensure that they are offered the same quality and level of education as learners in the community.

“Education is a human right for all, and one that’s breached daily for too many prisoners.”