Prisoners could help lift farm labour pressure under new plans

Government ministers are planning to relax day release rules
Government ministers are planning to relax day release rules

New plans in the making could see prisoners working on farms as part of a day release while they complete their sentence.

The government's Justice Secretary David Gauke is planning to ease rules that will allow offenders to work outside of prison while they complete their sentence.

One Northamptonshire-based farm business, Starkey's Fruit, told The Sunday Telegraph that the plans would help alleviate labour pressure post-Brexit.

Suzannah Starkey, who runs the business, is already in discussions about how to recruit prisoners to pick fruit on her farm.

She told the paper: “I will be getting in touch with my local prison and tell them who I am and what I want, and they will go and find potential people for my fruit farm.

“They are free to work just like any other employee, they come here, work and go back with their pay packet at the end of the day.”

She added: “I think we should be as a society giving chances to these people. The prisons are full of people who really ought not to be there and it is up to society who has chosen to lock people away to give them a place in society.”

It comes as farmers witness a sharp decline in the number of seasonal workers since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Nick Marston, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, said farms are reporting staff shortages of 10-20% already, and to have any effect in terms of supporting the industry, around 10,000 are needed now to fill in the gap.