Prison inmates paid to collect information from homeowners for insurance companies

Controversial scheme at Oakwood prison could be extended

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The Independent Online

A scheme under which prisoners are being paid to collect information from homeowners for insurance companies could be extended nationwide, the Ministry of Justice indicated today.

It has faced criticism over the initiative which is being run at Oakwood prison, Wolverhampton, and Drake Hall prison, Staffordshire.

Inmates ask possible customers their names and postcodes and whether they would be interested in a quote for their valuable items. Their replies are then recorded by the prisoners in a computer system.

Critics warned the programme could supply offenders with enough details of homes with valuables to be able to target after their release.

But the MoJ insisted there was no security risk involved as inmates were working from computers without internet access and were not allowed a pen to record the data.

“Prisoners placed in call-centres are risk assessed and their work is subject to stringent security measures, with calls supervised and recorded,” a spokesman said.

He said Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, knew about the scheme and fully supported it as a way of teaching new skills to offenders.

It could be rolled out nationwide if it was deemed a success, he confirmed.