People end up in prison for all sorts of reasons but it is fair to say that a significant percentage of inmates have got into financial difficulty and are likely to have a poor credit history. For most, there will come a time when they will be released from prison to enter the community once again. It is quite likely that they will need a basic bank account.
Why may a prisoner need a bank account?
You will need such an account to have any benefits paid into and when you get a job following your release from prison you will probably be having your wages or salary paid directly into your account. You can also set up direct debits and standing orders to pay your regular household bills and will need a debit card or cash card to be able to withdraw cash and purchase goods and services.
Is it easy to open an account whilst in prison?
Fortunately, over the years, a lot of work has been done in making sure that there is a system in place to ensure that, if an inmate needs a bank current account for when they are released from prison, a basic bank account can be opened prior to them leaving prison. In fact, in the final year of the Unlocking Banking Project that covered the period 2013 to 2014, there were 5,936 basic bank accounts opened for inmates who were subsequently going to be released. In 2014, there were 114 prisons that had connections with a bank in the high street providing their inmates with access to a basic bank account.
How does a prisoner open a basic bank account?
A prisoner should make enquiries in their prison. A prison usually provides an inmate wanting to open a bank account with access to one particular bank. Applications are processed by post. There is a special system in place with regard to going through the identification and address verification process so it is usually better to sort out the opening of a basic bank account whilst still in prison rather than wait until being released. The bank account details and debit or cash card will be held at the prison on behalf of the prisoner and handed to them upon their release enabling them to be used straight away.
So, as you can see, there appears to be a system in place to ensure that prisoners requiring a basic bank account have access to one when they leave prison. It is one less thing for someone that has served his or her time to have to worry about.