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Birmingham Prison

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 201815, tabled on 23 June 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many hours per week prisoners in HMP Birmingham spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and (b) what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the last date for which data is available.

Answered on

26 June 2014

Up until the end of 2011-12 information was collected on the average hours per weekday that prisoners were unlocked. By subtracting the average hours unlocked from the 24 hours in a day it is possible to estimate hours spent locked in cell. Figures for each prison establishment for the three years from 2009-10 to 2011-12 have been placed in the library of the House.

It should be noted that time in cell includes hours when prisoners are asleep. Time unlocked includes time where a prisoner is either out of their cell or where the cell door is unlocked allowing them to move freely in and out of the cell.Figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Time unlocked was discontinued as a performance indicator for prisons at the end of 2011-12 because it was not used in the day-to-day management of prisons and NOMS had concerns over the burden on the frontline of collecting the data. Indicators introduced into prison SLAs in respect of rehabilitation, resettlement and work in prisons provide a better demonstration of efforts to prepare prisoners for release and reduce reoffending. Figures for time in cell for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Work in prisons is a key priority to ensure prisoners are engaged purposefully whilst they are in custody. It also gives them the opportunity to learn skills and a work ethic which can increase their chances of finding employment on release, a key element to reducing reoffending.

The number of prisoners working in industrial activity across public sector prisons increased from around 8,600 in 2010-11 (the first year for which figures are available) to around 9,700 in 2012-13. This delivered an increase in the total hours worked in industrial activities from 10.6 million hours to 13.1 million hours. Private sector prisons have also been supporting this agenda and have reported that they delivered over 1½ million prisoner working hours in commercial and industrial workshops in 2012-13 which provided work for over 1,200 prisoners. In addition there are substantial numbers of prisoners who work to keep prisons running on tasks such as cooking, serving meals, maintenance and cleaning.

Figures for public sector prisons are published in the NOMS Annual Report Management Information Addendum:

The establishment-level breakdown of weekly hours worked is not available centrally for 2011-12 and 2012-13 and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Our reforms to the Incentives and Earned Privileges national policy framework came into effect in adult prisons on 1 November 2013. Prisoners will be expected to engage in purposeful activity, as well as demonstrate a commitment towards their rehabilitation, reduce their risk of reoffending, behave well and help others if they are to earn privileges.

Information on the proportion of prisoners classed as unemployed is not available centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

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