The Ministry of Justice has been forced to make an embarrassing apology for using an image of a bored shopworker in a recruitment campaign for prison officers.

The ACS sent an angry letter to secretary of state for justice Jack Straw last week regarding the image and the words: 'How many people's respect did you earn today?'

"This is one of a number of pictures used. There was never any intention to offend and we apologise for any offence caused," said a Prison Service spokeswoman. She said the image had been removed and would not be used in any new ads.

ACS public affairs manager Shane Brennan said he accepted the apology.