Political News Updates


Prisons: Employment

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of prisoners were recorded as having had some involvement in purposeful activity; and how many were recorded as unemployed in each prison in England and Wales as at 31 December 2013. [201108]

Jeremy Wright: This information is not available centrally and could be obtained only 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 1.5 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:


Figures for 2013-14 will be published in July.

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 purposeful activity in each prison and category of prison was published annually in the Prison Performance Digest up until 2011-12 and can be found at the following location:


Please note that figures are not available after 2011-12. Purposeful activity was formerly a performance indicator for prisons, but was discontinued at the start of 2012-13. The indicator was not used in the day-to-day management of prisons and NOMS had concerns over the burden on the front line of collecting the information. 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 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.