INMATES and staff are facing “upheaval and uncertainly” after profiteer Action for Employment (A4E) quit a London prison education contract, academics’ union UCU warned yesterday.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling had expected A4E to deliver offender education at 12 London prisons until July 2015.
But the Tory was left scrabbling to replace the notorious profiteer yesterday in the wake of its jail break.
The move will affect over 400 staff employed in the prisons.
And UCU said the chaos caused is just the latest proof that profit-making companies cannot be trusted with prisons.
“This move will cause upheaval and uncertainty for staff and offenders alike,” said UCU general secretary Sally Hunt.
“Those delivering offender learning contracts should have people, not profit, as their primary concern.
“Offenders who take part in education while in prison are three times less likely to reoffend than those who don’t, so it’s really important that we get this right.”
UCU called on the National Offender Management Service and the Skills Funding Agency to call an end to outsourced prison education in the wake of A4E’s escape.
The profiteer ditched its £17-million Offender Learning and Skills Service contract after just two years — because it couldn’t make a profit.
Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyons said she was stumped as to how they failed to make a loss.
But she added: “It is clear that prisoners are spending more and more time locked down in overcrowded cells in understaffed prisons.
“Wasting time rather than doing time is a far cry from the rehabilitation revolution.
“Withdrawal of prison education calls into question both this government’s capacity to award contracts for delivery of essential services and its commitment to rehabilitation. Our prisons are being reduced to warehouses — nothing more.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “There has been — and will be — no disruption to the education provision in London prisons. To suggest otherwise is entirely misleading.
“Discussions are ongoing with a potential new provider and A4E will continue to run services until a new contract is awarded.”