A new website has been launched which lays bare unethical employment practices in Britain’s prisons. Prisoners are being paid as little as 30p an hour. The work undertaken includes sorting book returns and printing holiday brochures for well known brands.

In 2006 freelance journalists Richard Cookson and Phil Chamberlain placed a Freedom of Information Act query requesting information on contracts between 10 and 8 named prisons, Young Offender Institutions and Immigration Removal Centres in England and Wales and the names of the companies using prison labour in the prison workshops; namely the nature of the work and how much the contracts were worth.

The Ministry of Justice initially refused to give out the information arguing there were ‘commercial’ interests involved. The journalists appealed. Two years later the Information Commissioner found in their favour and the ‘Investigating Prison Labour’ website was created see: www.prisonlabour.org.uk .

The Miscarriages of Justice News Service (MOJUK) said this week:

“This has been a significant victory for the Campaign Against Prison Slavery as it now opens up Contract Services to scrutiny and Prison Service outsiders will finally be able to examine more fully whether the quality of training provided in Contract Services workshops is as poor as prisoners are constantly telling us it is.

This is doubly important as the Conservative Party plan to double the number of Contract Service workshops placed in England and Wales if elected next year”.

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