Prisoners will be offered jobs at Pret A Manger to help them stay away from a life of crime and stop re-offending
- Low risk prisoners will be given placements at 530 businesses across the UK
- Once released from jail, they may be offered the job full-time
- Ministers hope the scheme will deter offenders from returning to a life of crime
Prisoners will be offered jobs in Pret a Manger sandwich shops under Whitehall plans to tackle reoffending.
Those considered to be of low public risk will be given placements at one of 530 businesses across the UK, including several high street chains.
Once released from jail, they may be offered the job full-time. Ministers hope the scheme will deter offenders from returning to a life of crime as well as providing them with more structure while in prison.
Today’s announcement by the Ministry of Justice is a major expansion of the Release on Temporary Licence scheme, known as RoTL.
Figures show that about 4,300 prisoners were released on temporary licence at least once between October and December 2018
This allows inmates to be released temporarily to attend work placements in the community, once they have passed a risk assessment.
Previously the Government has struggled to persuade companies to employ prisoners in case it put customers off. But the MoJ says 530 businesses have signed up, including Pret, the Greene King pub chain, Virgin Trains and the DHL parcel service.
Until now, the RoTL scheme was offered only to inmates in the last 12 months of their sentences. From today, governors will be able to put forward any prisoner they think might be suitable.
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.
Those considered to be of low public risk will be allowed out to work placements
‘I urge more businesses to join this movement and help ex-offenders turn their backs on crime for good.’ The scheme largely applies to inmates in open prisons and women’s jails who are considered to be low risk.
But this may still include those convicted of serious offences such as murder and rape who are nearing the end of long sentences.
They will be paid at least the minimum wage but their earnings will vary depending on their employers. Some of their pay will be deducted and invested into the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, a victims’ compensation scheme.
Figures show that about 4,300 prisoners were released on temporary licence at least once between October and December 2018, a 3 per cent increase on the same period in 2017.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘This is a welcome initiative from the Government, as securing a job is a key way to help people out of crime.’
He added: ‘Extending the use of RoTL will get prisoners off their prison bunks and into meaningful education and employment in the community, preparing for them for life once they are released.’