Accepting the proposition that UK prisons are overloaded and overcrowded, an obvious solution to this problem would seem to be to build more prisons. But there are budget constraints on capital expenditure. Not only that, the prison budgets have to cover prisoner rehabilitation/re-education and academic and social training for re-integration into "civilian life" upon discharge. Much of this expenditure, although socially and morally necessary, brings little or no return being poorly focussed with respect to getting prisoners back into paid employment as evidenced by the rate of re-offending.

The FDP approach solves all of these problems whilst at the same time provides the opportunity to build more prisons and also saves money for the Government on both capital expenditure and prisoner social budgets simultaneously.

The FDP proposition is that Britain should build new or extend existing prisons utilising to the maximum extent possible the "captive" on site in-mates.

Prisoner participation would be entirely voluntary but the advantages to all concerned would be immense and a worthwhile solution for everyone involved.

Firstly, it would be necessary to train-up the prisoner work force in all the many building development and construction disciplines - some may already exist to some degree. But, that exercise de-facto constitutes in-mate re-education/rehabilitation.

Secondly, it is common knowledge that in Britain there is shortage of qualified craftsmen throughout the building industry, so upon release, many ex-prisoners will be able and qualified to fill these employment vacancies. An advantage to the construction industry specifically, and to the overall economic environment; ex-prisoners and the country at large.

Thirdly, it is recognised that initially there may be some resistance from Trades Unions during the conception phase therefore the prisoners must be paid "a wage" so it is not seen to be getting labour on the cheap, and the scheme must be designed around Trade Union participation, who will, to a large extent be providing the "Teaching Team" and be participating mentors for the trainee prisoners. The wage levels would need to be realistic with some equivalence to "the going rate" less amounts for Board and Lodging. Such a training scheme would not only teach a skill but would also demonstrate the advantages of employment, and the management of their own affairs. An experience/opportunity that many may have never had. Recognising that intimidation is prevalent in prisons, the wages would not be paid in full but banked to their account; with only a weekly pocket money allowance. The "nest egg" to be paid upon release; further enforcing the advantages of a non criminal life style.

Sympathetically presented to the senior echelons of the Building Trades Unions their support of the scheme would be seen as highly socially commendable, exhibiting a high degree of long-term social responsibility for their fellow men and women, and boosting their Trade Union membership.

Finally, the Government and the prison service gets more and better prisons at lower cost. Prisoner conditions will be improved - design inputs from prisoners - prison management will benefit - prisoners will be less inclined to abuse their own work- etc. etc. and all at lower capital and revenue costs.

The FDP approach would be firstly to invite tenders from the Construction Industry to build a new prison establishment on the basis that they utilise and train prisoners (in collaboration with HMG) to the maximum extent possible.

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Last Updated (Friday, 09 April 2010 10:51)

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