Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jihadi prisoners are being trained up as BARISTAS at a maximum security HMP Belmarsh

  • Barista training course started earlier this year at the south London prison 
  • Prison chiefs have been inundated with requests to do the six-week course
  • Pret A Manger said it was committed to work with prisons on new scheme
Prisoners are being trained up to make frothy lattes and cappuccinos
Prisoners are being trained up to make frothy lattes and cappuccinos
Jihadi prisoners are being trained up as baristas at a maximum security prison.

Lags at the 900-capacity HMP Belmarsh, in south London, home to some of the most volatile lags in the UK and around 100 Islamic militants, are being trained up to make frothy lattes and cappuccinos.

A number of prisons around the UK, in the hope that inmates will find it easier to land a job when released, have started barista courses after the explosion of coffee shops around the UK in the last decade.

And Belmarsh has now jumped on the bandwagon, with a barista training course starting up earlier this year.

Prison chiefs have been inundated with requests from prisoners to sign up for the six-week course, which has already seen a number of lags trained up as baristas.

The course teaches them how to serve up gourmet coffees, including lattes, flat whites and expressos - as well as smoothie and hot chocolate.

A report out into the prison this week by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) this week confirmed that the classes had started.

It stated: 'The Board is pleased that the training in Barista skills has recently started.'

Belmarsh - once home to hate preachers Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada and Lee Rigby's murderer Michael Adebolajo - was likened to a 'jihadi training camp' earlier this year by a former inmate.

The inmate, a Muslim graduate who was in the jail for bank fraud, said in an interview this year that prisoners were 'brainwashed' to 'spread the terror message' and that the jail was 'run' by a group of jihadists who call themselves 'the brothers' or 'the Akhi (Arabic for brother).

The classes are part of the prison's Offenders' Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) programme, which aims to help prisoners gain 'work opportunities' when they are released.

The course, called VTCT Level 2 Award in Barista Skills (QCF), teaches students to learn to taste the difference between coffees and make other drinks, like smoothies and hot chocolate.

It states: 'The main role of a Barista is to make wonderful coffee, but you will also learn how use equipment to make tea, hot chocolate, smoothies and juices.

'You will develop the skills to make various types of coffee and tea that are regularly prepared for customers in coffee shops, caf├ęs, hotels and restaurants.

'You will learn about coffee, where it is grown, how it is processed and how it arrives ready for you to grind and brew.'

It also states that students need to learn about 'the importance of good customer service' and how to 'solve the problems that arise on a daily basis when working as a barista'.

Belmarsh - once home to hate preacher Abu Hamza (pictured)  was likened to a 'jihadi training camp' earlier this year by a former inmate
Belmarsh - once home to hate preacher Abu Hamza (pictured) was likened to a 'jihadi training camp' earlier this year by a former inmate

Students also need to be able to 'describe the original and flavour' of the coffees and other drinks on offer.

A prison worker, who has worked in jails around the UK for the past 10 years, said barista courses were the 'next big thing' in prisons and would take over from 'traditional' trades.

He said: 'Most of the courses (in jail) cover the basic trades, like painting and decorating and bricklaying - or in women's jail hairdressing and sewing.

'Being trained up as a barista is the next new thing - it's no surprise I guess with the number of coffee shops around nowadays.'

Another prison already offering a barista course to prisoners is HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire - and plans are in progress to expand the scheme to many prisons across the UK.

Prisoners at HMP Holloway, a 590-capacity women's jail in north London, were due to be trained up as baristas by Pret a Manger staff, but the scheme was scrapped when it was announced that the jail was to be closed later this year.

Despite the scheme being scrapped at HMP Holloway, prison chiefs are keen to roll out barista training at other jails in the UK to help lags get jobs upon their release.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: 'Prison should also help offenders get the skills and qualifications to make a success of life on the outside. We should see them as potential assets, people who can contribute to society and put something back.

'We have secured £1.3 billion to modernise the prison estate and we will put governors in charge. These reforms will ensure prisons are places of decency and improve public safety by reducing reoffending.'

There are an estimated 19,000 coffee shops in the UK - and it is estimated that within the next 15 years the number of coffee houses could overtake the number of pubs in Britain.

There are around 48,000 pubs in Britain now - compared to 69,000 in 1980 - but they are closing at a rate of 31-a-week, that's more than 1,600 closing their doors every year.

A spokeswoman for Pret A Manger confirmed that the scheme at HMP Holloway has been cancelled because of the imminent closure of the jail, but said it was committed to working with prisons to help offenders get jobs through its Pret Foundation Trust. 

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