Prisoners are given jobs at Bernard Matthews turkey plant

Doing bird! Prisoners are given jobs at Bernard Matthews turkey plant to plug vacancies as part of a Government drive to rehabilitate criminals

  • Almost 100 serving or former inmates are working in poultry and hospitality 
  • The workforce drive is part of a Government initiative to rehabilitate criminals 
  • Turkey producer Bernard Matthews and pub chain Greene King are taking part  
  • Turkey producer Bernard Matthews has drafted in prisoners to plug vacancies and ensure the birds reach tables this Christmas.

    Almost 100 serving or former inmates are working across the poultry and hospitality sector as part of a Government drive to rehabilitate criminals.

    Earlier this year it was reported that the meat processing industry had 14,000 vacancies – roughly 15 per cent of the workforce. It means firms have been keen to link up with prisoners on day release to help fill the gaps.

    Almost 100 serving or former inmates (file photo used) are working across the poultry and hospitality sector as part of a Government drive to rehabilitate criminals

    Almost 100 serving or former inmates (file photo used) are working across the poultry and hospitality sector as part of a Government drive to rehabilitate criminals

    Bernard Matthews is employing nine prisoners and six former inmates at its Norwich factory.

    Training manager Bryan Hurst said: ‘The work we do with HMP Norwich gives individuals the opportunity to change their lives.

    ‘Not only does this help them, but it reduces reoffending. It also massively benefits us as a company because these people are reliable, work extremely hard, and they really appreciate the opportunity.’

    Justice Secretary Dominic Raab recently unveiled a prisons strategy White Paper that re-committed the Government to help prisoners gain education and skills to lower the chance of reoffending.

    Research by the Ministry of Justice says prisoners who find work after release are up to nine per cent less likely to reoffend.

    Earlier this year it was reported that the meat processing industry (pictured in a file photo) had 14,000 vacancies – roughly 15 per cent of the workforce

    Earlier this year it was reported that the meat processing industry (pictured in a file photo) had 14,000 vacancies – roughly 15 per cent of the workforce 

    Pub retail and brewing chain Greene King is also taking part in the drive to recruit offenders.

    It has taken on 79 prisoners since 2019 and employed another eight on day release this month.

    Graham Briggs, head of apprenticeships, said: ‘At Greene King we believe it is important to focus on an individual’s future and their potential, not their past.

    ‘We are excited to continue our partnership with the Ministry of Justice, which provides career opportunities for individuals released on temporary licence and leaving prison.

    ‘These opportunities will help individuals move forward in life, become valued team members, have the stability of a steady income and build a career.’

    The nationwide pub chain, Greene King, is also taking part in the drive to recruit offenders

    The nationwide pub chain, Greene King, is also taking part in the drive to recruit offenders

    The new strategy will result in advisers helping offenders find work in jails or outside on temporary day release.

    Employers will interview prisoners by video link and there will be ‘job centres’ in prisons.

    There will also be more computers in cells to allow vetted prisoners to do training or educational courses online as well as keep in touch with their families.

    Jails with in-cell technology will increase from four to 11 by next summer.

    All inmates will get ‘resettlement’ passports that will act like a CV and record their training, skills, drug treatment, accommodation and family ties.

    Mr Raab said: ‘Employers like Greene King and Bernard Matthews are leading the way in training prisoners and giving them jobs so they steer clear of crime on release. 

    ‘Under our new strategy, more prisons will be working with local businesses to help fill vacancies and cut crime.’