Food firms beg govt to let them use prisoners as staff

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Desperate food manufacturers are pleading with the government to be able to call upon prisoners to solve a labour crisis blamed on the double blow of Brexit and Covid.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, which represents butchers, abattoirs and processors, said it had a call set up with the Ministry of Justice on Monday that would explore how its members could recruit more current inmates and ex-offenders.

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To fill vacancies companies are trying to draft in prisoners via a scheme that allows inmates to undertake paid work on day release. They are also contacting charities for ex-servicemen and women to try to drum up staff.

Tony Goodger of the meat suppliers’ association said some of its members already had inmates on the release on temporary licence programme working for them and found them to be an asset. It had also been in contact with the Career Transition Partnership, which helps former service personnel into work, and had been able to point some of them to members with job vacancies; however, the “numbers are low”, he said.

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