Press release

Prisoners to supply armed forces with kit

Prisoners will be making sandbags, fence posts and other support products for Britain’s armed forces after an innovative new agreement was signed by ministers.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

prisoners making products for the armed forces

Taxpayers are set to benefit from further savings after a 10-year service level agreement was signed by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Minister for Defence Equipment, Support & Technology Philip Dunne.

The agreement – which is set to extend a 6-month trial that has already produced savings of nearly £500,000 – will see offenders learn valuable employment skills as the work is brought back to British shores.

A number of the products were previously made overseas, while a number of items, such as hydraulic jacks, will now be able to be repaired rather than simply replaced.

As well as making significant savings, bringing back work to Britain and helping prisoners’ rehabilitation, the agreement will also be of great benefit to local businesses that supply materials to prisons such as HMP Coldingley.

The agreement comes on the same day that a new dawn begins for England and Wales’ Justice System with new laws brought into force ensuring that 45,000 short-term prisoners will no longer walk out of our prisons every year without support.

Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling said:

For too long we have released prisoners back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets and little else than the hope that they would sort themselves out. It’s little wonder things haven’t improved - but now all this will change.

For the first-time we will be giving all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation, instead of just leaving them to wander the streets and get on with it.

And I’m proud that on the same day this starts we can also announce an innovative agreement that will see our prison workforce helping our armed forces. By providing this new service, prisoners will be giving something back to their country, while learning important new skills and the value of a hard day’s work.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support & Technology Philip Dunne said:

I was pleased to visit HMP Coldingley prison today to see the workshops in action and speak to the prison workforce supporting our Armed Forces. During times of austerity we’re always looking at ways to be more efficient and this is a fantastic initiative.

The pilot projects have been very successful, so signing the agreement here today is a great step in widening the benefits for both departments and society as it will offer prisoners more opportunities to develop skills and prepare for employment when released.

The 10-year service level agreement was signed at Coldingley prison, and comes into force on 1 February.

Offenders across a number of prisons will start making the wide range of products, with the agreement able to be expanded to allow prisoners to make more products and services.

The agreement is the result of a year’s work between the departments with a 6-month trial seeing the prisons produce

  • 17,375 fence posts
  • 3,950 edge protectors
  • 128 refurbished hydraulic jacks
  • 250 burner boxes
  • 20,000 sandbags

Notes to editors:

  1. More information on the start of our reforms to probation.
Published 1 February 2015