Plan to Set Up Call Centers in Prisons Mooted in UK
The details of the plans have emerged after marketing material from an MoJ-supported company, which described the call centre scheme as a 'rehabilitation revolution', were passed to the Guardian.
The MoJ stressed that the company, UrbanData Ltd, was no longer involved in the programme as it had filed for liquidation, but the department confirmed they are still interested in setting up call centres inside the prison.
In a leaflet sent out to various organizations late last year, UrbanData said it could offer 'lower costs and overheads' if businesses are signed up, The Guardian reports.
Advertising the scheme as a 'fantastic rehabilitation revolution' the leaflet added that prison-run call centres could offer trained operators "with British Regional [sic] accents as an effective alternative to off shoring operations".
A marketing e-mail sent with the leaflet confirmed the plans to get prisoners to work manning phones were backed by the government.
"Working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, we are establishing call centres inside prisons," it said.
"We are training prisoners to become qualified contact centre operators. This gives them employment during their prison term and also prepares them for a more productive life when they return home," the email said.
However, establishing call centres inside prisons would be one of the first instances of prisoners serving lengthy sentences coming into direct commercial contact with the public, the report added.
It is unclear how much prisoners would be paid at call centres inside prisons, but under current rules prisoners on "work experience" are paid three pounds a day, with no set maximum to the work experience period.