Former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken backs ex-inmate’s concept to open car wash staffed by prisoners at Hollesley Bay

A recreation room at Hollesley Bay open prison

A recreation room at Hollesley Bay open prison - Credit: Archant

Former Conservative cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken has come out in support of an ex-Hollesley Bay inmate’s idea to start a car wash staffed by prisoners at the open jail.

Jonathan Aitken

Jonathan Aitken - Credit: Archant/paul geater

The concept was put forward by Jonathan Robinson who has become an advocate for prison reform since serving a large part of his sentence for stealing from his employer at Hollesley Bay.

Since his release Mr Robinson, a former helicopter pilot, has been particularly vocal about what he sees are missed opportunities to help prepare offenders to make a positive contribution on their return to society.

Mr Aitken was jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 1999. Since his release in 2000 he has also become a passionate crusader for prison reform and now champions rehabilitation projects.

The former Orwell Park schoolboy believes Mr Robinson’s car cleaning idea – which he had dubbed ‘Con Wash’ – is one which could help motivate prisoners.


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Mr Aitken said he felt the concept fitted in with current Government thinking and the trend of penal policy which puts more emphasis on the rehabilitation of offenders while serving their sentences.

Mr Aitken said: “I strongly support the suggestion because it seems to me to be a good rehabilitation project - a self supporting project which won’t cost the prison service any money to set up and something that would be very good to get offenders back in to the habit of working and preparing for a life in which they would stay free of crime.

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“I think this is an excellent, bright idea.

“The prison service sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t respond to good workable ideas. I hope on this occasion it will respond positively.

“I may well write to Prisons Minister Andrew Selous commending the project to him. Really this is a decision which should be taken quickly and I hope positively by the Governor of Hollesley Bay.”

Mr Aitken added that in 1961 he had a summer job as assistant to a housemaster at Hollesley Bay when it was a borstal.

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