More opportunities for prisoners to work in pubs after rule changes

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Greater access: rule changes mean prisons will be able to grant temporary release licences to more offenders to train
Greater access: rule changes mean prisons will be able to grant temporary release licences to more offenders to train

Related tags: Prison

Pubcos have welcomed rule changes meaning they will be able to offer prisoners more work and training opportunities.

Prison Governors will be given greater autonomy to grant Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), giving offenders more opportunities to work and train with businesses.

This will mean prisoners from open and women's jails have a better chance of being employed immediately after being released.

Offenders will now be eligible for paid work immediately after passing risk assessment.

'Join the movement'

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and ultimately keep the public safe.

“Many organisations are recognising the value of giving offenders a second chance, and we have carefully listened to their feedback before making these changes.

“I urge more businesses to join this movement and help ex-offenders turn their backs on crime for good.”  

Pubco Greene King has made a commitment to employ 50 offenders by the end of 2019, working with prisons in the North West and London.

Greene King’s communications director Greg Sage, said employing offenders through ROTL was a remedy to an industry-wide staff shortage.

'Pipeline of talent'

He said: “We’ve started working with ex-offenders and people coming towards the end of their sentence because it allows us to secure a pipeline of talent coming into our business, at the same time as helping people start again as they leave prison.

“In the hospitality industry there is a nationwide shortage of kitchen staff – kitchen managers and chefs particularly – that we at Greene King are not immune to.”

Pubs across the country have struggled to not only recruit but retain staff. Some 65% of hospitality staff said they planned to leave their current role "in the near future" in a survey by UK hospitality job board the Caterer.

A prisons’ education and employment strategy was launched last year, with more than 200 businesses offering a work placement to offenders, the New Futures Network (NFN).

Reducing re-offending

Time spent working in a community before release significantly reduces a prisoner’s likelihood of re-offending, research from the MoJ found last year.

It concluded that ex-offenders in employment are up to nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls spoke of the sectors' enthusiasm in this area.

She said: “Many pubs already go to great lengths to provide opportunities to employees who would otherwise find it harder to find employment.

"A number of UKHospitality’s members, along with the wider hospitality sector, work with schemes such as Only A Pavement Away providing employment for at-risk individuals, including ex-offenders.

"Pubs and bars are fantastic, inclusive employers and we pride ourselves on the fact that our sector offers opportunities to anyone, irrespective of their circumstances or previous level of qualification.

"If employers are keen to offer opportunities to those in need of them, then the change in rules should provide even greater opportunities to show we are an inclusive sector.”

Pubco Ei Group announced it would help offenders qualify for work as pub chefs after their release, in a partnership with a charity focused on reducing re-offending rates.

Ei Group HR director, Andy Holness said: “As a business, we are committed to promoting pubs at the heart of local communities and the wider hospitality sector as a career of choice. We are working closely in partnership with The Clink Charity and are just finalising some exciting plans to support their fantastic work.

"We hope through this and other initiatives that we can demonstrate the contribution ex-offenders can make when given a second chance.

“We welcome these new rule changes which will further enable ex-offenders to build a sustainable career in the hospitality sector and reduce re-offending rates across the country.”

Gauke praised the work of the sector in helping ex offenders​ at a conference hosted by the Only A Pavement Away (OAPA) charity earlier this year. 

He said: "I believe strongly in the power of work to change people’s lives.

“But some vulnerable people, including the homeless, ex-service personnel and ex-offenders do face particular barriers and prejudices upon entering and benefiting from the labour market.

“Hospitality is a sector in which more and more employers are opening their eyes and their workplaces to those who show promise but who may not have a perfect record or start in life."

Related topics: Legislation, Training

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