Saturday, December 3, 2011

unprecedented access to the Strangeways Prison in Manchester, Ian Wylie discovers his idleness has become infamous for the hard work and reform

Perhaps the most exclusive restaurant in white cloth in the north-west, Crofters employs some servers more attentive, courteous and impeccably presented to serve me a meal. Diners need to book well in advance for a full a la carte menu, however, the leaders are ready to be cooked to order.

a penalty is unlikely to get a table. Why? Plastic cutlery is the gift. Because you will not find in the Yellow Pages Crofters, but within HMP Manchester - Strangeways aka. The cooks and servers are all prisoners. And my guests are its guardians.


high security prison in Britain has long been a Class A touchstone for the discussion of the purpose of prisons. Riots that followed 21 years ago, has become synonymous with Strangeways what was wrong with the criminal justice system, which had to be rebuilt and renamed.

Now, despite the home to some of the most dangerous criminals of the nation, HMP Manchester is a pioneer in a "prison labor" model that is designed to give prisoners real work experience - and increase your chances of finding a job and right, once released.


model is that the government wants the rest of the state prisons to go - from entertainment in the workplace and reform. More than a third of prisoners are unemployed at the time of imprisonment and, for many, this is your first vision of a workplace.

Yet the hardest work of all the remains to find an answer to the question: what is the purpose of working in prisons? Is it to punish or reform of the characters? A mechanism to make prisoners pay for the Support of Victims of their profits? It is the point of bringing private sector employers to give more prisoners "real world" - or holding low-cost, non-union work

The history of prison labor is a history of obstruction of the tedious tasks: breaking the rocks, sewing mailbags, connect the wiring. In the U.S., some states use inmates to fight against fire. In the UK, the majority of prisoners experience something more interesting than "Noddy shop" where the objective work of repetitive tasks is to keep them busy. PGH in Manchester, the scheme aims to offer something more redemptive. Most of the prisoners working in the unit, Croft 10-minute walk and several closed doors by the residential wings. The Croft has a laundry service, printing, an industrial kitchen and the waste management unit and the Crofters restaurant. Basically it's an industrial park - is being surrounded by a large wall and ferocious German shepherds

fifteen days of the arrival of all prisoners in Category A, but is expected to start work in exchange for training and salaries of about £ 10 a week.

The kitchen is fully managed by the prison workers - about 30 per shift - prepare a meal for 1350 held on a budget of only £ 1.99 per person per day. When handling large bags of frozen peas and carrots around the stainless steel counter tops are in an adjoining room to improve their numeracy and literacy NVQ in catering and hospitality. Some are even trained to be evaluators.

Funding was obtained to build a bakery to provide breads, artisan breads and Danish pastries - baked in prison save £ 90 000 on his contract. Similarly, the restaurant was between £ 80.00 and £ 90 000 in just 12 months.

"Most employees are happy to pieces," said Farouk, speaking of the prison service who eat at Crofters. Eight months after a sentence of four years, who once ran a chain of take-out in India. He is now studying for an NVQ level 2 in hospitality management, and some trains new recruits to the restaurant in the preparation of dishes from India. "Because we have the freshest ingredients, you do not receive 100% of the flavor. But given what we have to do an outstanding job. It's very hard, but we pay the most Crofters here, and that helps us to buy what we need. "

Some industrial units to bid for external contracts. The kitchen supplies buffets for the local council, while washing clothes is in charge of Greater Manchester Police, Lancashire Fire and Rescue, University of Central Lancashire in Preston and eight other prisons.

above the hum of the washing machine 50 kg there are laughs when someone discovers a dead (very clean) mouse at the bottom of a basket of laundry Nottingham prison.

Last year, the clothes have become more than £ 550 000 and will soon become an operation seven days a week. The printing press, which replaced a textile unit - the prison decided he had fewer opportunities in the textile sector - a £ 1 million of new equipment, the latest Heidelberg. Is underway to make £ 600 000 this year, thanks to contracts with the prison administration and the Department of Justice.

"But we are also giving people the skills to get a job and not return," says Vince, who said the center of the prison in the services sector. "The Green Paper ( Department of Justice Breaking the Cycle) was a philosophy we've had, anyway, but gave us more power than is now part of the government's agenda. "

from next year, for example, HMP Manchester will work more closely with Jobcentre Plus, to help inmates find jobs and track your progress.

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