London: Dangerous convicts in Britain's 'most notorious' lifers-only jail will now be allowed to use scissors and razors so that they can become hairdressers.
Prison officials at the Kingston Prison in Portsmouth are hoping it will lessen the risk of the inmates committing an offence again.
Lessons in the prison's barber shop are training the prisoners on how to shave a customer and do a short back and sides, the Daily Express reported.
A spokeswoman for the Taxpayers' Alliance, a pressure group, said: "Teaching inmates new skills can be of long-term benefit to prisoners and the public purse, but Kingston prison should examine carefully whether training that involves sharp implements is the best way."
However, Craig Bruce, the prison head of learning and skills, believes the programme will create job opportunities for the convicts.
"Our primary principle is protecting the public, but the other main agenda is reducing re-offending. A high percentage of these guys will be released at some stage. We have to give them the tools to cope so they can lead a law-abiding life," he said.
Deputy prison governor Natasha Wilson said: "The prisoners are in a very controlled environment. They are individually risk-assessed. The tools are closely monitored and we have procedures as to how those are issued and accounted for."
"If we were to put somebody back in society who served a sentence for knife crime, it would be a far higher risk if they had had absolutely no contact with knives," she said.
Kingston holds 200 category B and C prisoners. Category B does not require maximum security but need to be in a jail where escape is difficult. Category C are thought unlikely to escape.
Other courses offered at the prison include painting and decorating and motorcycle maintenance.