Ex-convicts to fill staff shortages at pubs in Christmas run-up

Business / Sat 23rd Oct 2021 at 10:20am

EX-CONVICTS could help plug staff shortages in London’s pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday.

The capital’s hospitality sector is struggling with crippling staff shortages, executives say, threatening the future of one of London’s most important industries.

To help address the crisis, the Government is launching a scheme with Wandsworth Prison to help ex-offenders retrain as chefs, waiters and bar staff.

Mr Raab told the Standard: “Hospitality has been hit hard by coronavirus, with many staff changing careers and businesses now looking to fill jobs.

“That’s why HMP Wandsworth is on a recruitment drive to encourage vetted and appropriate ex-offenders into the sector to fill those gaps. It’s a rewarding career for someone in need of a second chance and a way businesses can help us cut re-offending.

“I’m determined to use more prisoners to keep London’s hospitality industry thriving whilst ensuring its streets are safer than ever before.”

The Justice Secretary, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday set out plans to boost the number of prisoners gaining skills and prison leavers in jobs in sectors from agriculture to transportation six months after release.

At the same time the Government published new polling which showed that 90 per cent of businesses which employ ex-offenders said they are reliable and good at their job.

“Giving an ex-offender a second chance can be win win for them and their employer,” Mr Raab added. “Business owners have told me ex-offenders are among the most reliable and motivated workers in their team – they have a desire to prove themselves trustworthy and they have something to lose.”

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Nacro said: “Yesterday, Dominic Raab announced his plan to solve the job crisis and cut reoffending rates in one fell swoop. After 50 years working to help prison leavers have the best chance at a second chance in life,  Nacro welcomes this announcement.

Reoffending costs the UK economy around £18 billion a year, with only one in seven prison leavers finding work within the first six months of release, so it’s positive to see the Justice Secretary encouraging firms to invest in hiring those with criminal records and those due for release.

Having an income, a structure to life is key to helping people with their rehabilitation, Mr Raab’s intention to ensure that everyone leaving prison has ID and a bank account, alongside work skills or a job upon release is very welcome, but there is one key omission.

Around 1000 people are released from prison directly into homelessness every month. Without a safe and secure home, despite recent welcome measures to support prison leavers, we are simply setting people up to fail.

Rehabilitation is a delicate web, each individual strand is there to support prison leavers, we know everyone leaving prison needs somewhere to live, work, ID, a bank account, access to health services, and positive community links and relationships to change their lives. When one strand is missing, we risk people falling through.

Mr Raab focus on rehabilitation is a good start, the spending review will be the next opportunity for the Justice Secretary to turn these plans into a reality and expand his vision to include housing for everyone leaving prison.”

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3 Comments for Ex-convicts to fill staff shortages at pubs in Christmas run-up:

gary roberts
2021-10-23 11:22:43

Using the term "ex-convicts" will not attract those just out of custody, will it? Really editor sinking to the level of Priti Patel or Dominic Raab does nothing for recruitment. I can just see the spark when a drunk customer goes to the bar and spouts, "a pint please, convict", and thereby adding more to the already over crowded and underfunded prisons.

2021-10-23 11:33:25

Spot on Gary

2021-10-23 21:18:34

We hear about worker shortages. We also hear about nearly 5% unemployment. So make people on unemployment, and perhaps some other benefits, work the number of hours at minimum wage to "earn" their benefits. If they work longer they get paid more, and perhaps they will even get a full time job.

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