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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 16:09 GMT
Prisoners train to clean up act
BBC Wales education correspondent Hywel Griffith
By Hywel Griffith
BBC Wales education correspondent

Inmate Adrian Jones trains as a cleaner at Parc Prison
Convicted burglar Adrian Jones is training as a cleaner
Inmates at a south Wales prison are training as cleaners in a scheme to help them find work on release.

Staff at Parc Prison, in Bridgend, have identified trades in which there are shortages of employees and are training inmates to fill the gaps.

Several prisoners are learning how to become industrial cleaners.

A day release scheme has been set up so prisoners, who include burglars and robbers, can gain potential employers' trust by working for them temporarily.

Parc also holds a regular jobs fair, so that potential recruiters can meet the inmates and discuss job prospects.

It's better to send out a person who is self-motivated to change
Tracey Yuille, Parc Prison

A number of private firms have been developing a relationship with the jail.

Adrian Jones, currently serving a nine-year sentence for burglary, said he believed the possibility of gaining employment could help prevent him from reoffending.

He added: "I never had much education before coming into prison.

"Since coming into prison, I've done this course and its given me a foot up on the ladder.

"When I get out of prison I can go straight into employment. It's a good reason to stay out.

Parc Prison, Bridgend
Parc Prison says the scheme is a way of combating reoffending

"I'm planning to get married as soon as I get out, so everything is planned out in my eyes, so that will keep me out of prison."

According to Home Office figures, 61% of prisoners in UK jails commit another crime within two years of release.

Parc Prison said it used its education strategy as a way of tackling re-offending.

The prison's head of learning and skills, Tracey Yuille, said: "Rather than sending out an angry person whose been locked up all the time for years, it's better to send out a person who is self-motivated to change."

The prison had previously offered courses to train call centre operators but has stopped after several major employers moved work abroad.

Inmate training at Parc Prison
A range of courses in other skills are offered to Parc inmates

The jail also offers training in areas such as carpentry and computing where there is a demand for new employees, but industrial cleaning is proving to be one of the most popular.

James Jones, who is a serving three year and nine month sentence for robbery, has already trained for three levels of accreditation from the British Institute of Cleaning Sciences (BICS) and now trains other inmates.

He said: "There's quite a bit of responsibility involved in it.

"I take a group of two or three people, we go around the jail and anything that needs cleaning, it comes through here and we go and do it."

He added that he believed the training would help give him some stability once he was released from jail.

"I've had jobs before which I don't really like, but I've started cleaning, and I enjoy it," he said.

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