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Education key to prison rehabilitation

23 October 2013 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Too many prisoners spend too long in their cells with nothing constructive to do, warned the chief inspector of prisons today.

UCU said that a more thoughtful approach to education and activity in prisons was required if offenders were to be successfully rehabilitated. The union said education was key to cutting reoffending, but warned that too many prisoners were spending too much time locked up as funding cuts bite and fewer prison staff are available to supervise activities.

Publishing his annual report, Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, also warned that managers ran the risk of becoming preoccupied with targets and processes and could lose sight of their fundamental responsibilities for the safety, security and rehabilitation of offenders.

UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We need a much more thoughtful approach when it comes to what happens in our prisons. The government might like to sound tough on crime, but locking more people up and not providing the funds for those already behind bars to receive a worthwhile regular education makes little sense.

'Prison education is the key factor in cutting reoffending, but the constant chopping and changing of education contracts and government tinkering with the system means many don't get to see their courses through properly.'

Prisoners who do not take part in education are three times more likely to be reconvicted than those that do.