Inmates are currently being paid for the collection of information on behalf of home insurers.
A controversial new homeowners insurance data collection program has been launched at Oakwood Prison in the United Kingdom, which employs prisoners with the task of obtaining information from property owners on behalf of their insurers.
This program, if successful, may be considerably expanded over time to the point that it goes nationwide.
The Ministry of Justice recently announced that the prisoners will be paid in order to collect the homeowners insurance information. This program has faced a high degree of criticism, particularly as it expanded from Wolverhampton’s Oakwood prison and now includes Staffordshire’s Drake Hall prison, as well.
The homeowners insurance program is a marketing effort that calls customers to offer additional coverage.
The prisoners are required to phone potential customers in order to obtain their names and postcodes so that they can ask if those customers are interested in receiving a quote from a homeowners insurance company in order to provide additional protection for their most valuable possessions. The responses of the customers are entered into a computer system by the inmates.
The critics of the homeowners insurance marketing program have pointed out that hiring prisoners to contact customers in this way could help to provide those inmates with adequate information about the homes that contain the type of valuables that may be an appealing target for them after they are released from prison.
However, the Ministry of Justice has insisted that the communication on behalf of the homeowners insurance companies by the prisoners does not involve any security risk. The inmates perform their tasks using computers that do not have an internet connection, and they are not provided with pens so that they are not able to record any of the information that they hear during their workday.
According to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice, when speaking about this homeowners insurance program, “Prisoners placed in call-centres are risk assessed and their work is subject to stringent security measures, with calls supervised and recorded.” He also pointed out that the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, is fully aware of the program and is in complete support of it as it allows offenders to learn valuable working skills.