Barber shop to give lessons to prisoners

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LIFERS are to be given hairdressing classes at a new prison barber shop.

Convicts at Kingston Prison will soon be able to snip their way to a qualification in a bid to equip them for life on the outside.

It is among a raft of measures being introduced to broaden education opportunities for inmates so they stand more chance of getting a job on their release from jail.

Prison officials hope the move will help reduce their risk of committing more crimes.

Painting and decorating, motorbike maintenance and bike refurbishment workshops are also being set up at the Victorian prison in Milton Road, Milton.

Craig Bruce, head of learning and skills, said: 'We are looking at what skills gaps there are in society and looking at what we can do to enable prisoners to get jobs on the outside.

'Our primary principle is protecting the public but the other main agenda is reducing reoffending.

'The bottom line is that a high percentage of these guys will be released at some stage. We have to give them the tools to be able to cope so they can lead a law-abiding life.'

Deputy governor Natasha Wilson said: 'We might have prisoners who are teachers, lawyers or doctors, but we also have people who have no education history, who will have been in custody since they were 15 or 16, have come through the juvenile system into the adult system and have been in custody for half their life.

'The prisoners are in a very controlled environment. They are individually risk-assessed so staff and prisoners are protected.

'The workplace is also risk-assessed by the security department, health and safety and the education department. The tools are closely monitored and we have got procedures in place as to how those are issued and accounted for.

'Every prisoner has to go through a workplace allocation board. If there are concerns, they won't be allocated to that workplace. We look at their custodial history, and the level of staffing needed for that area.

'If we were to put somebody back in society who served a sentence for knife crime for example, it would be a far higher risk if they had had absolutely no contact with knives and then were to go back into society and have open access to them. However we acknowledge it has to be at the right stage of their sentence where they have to address some of the issues they are inside for.

'What we have got to do is minimise the chances of (prisoners] committing more crimes when they are out and ensuring the public are safe.'