Page 46 - Farm labour in the UK
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  “Once they have decided that they want to change their lives they will be more devoted and more determined than anybody. So, they will be fantastic employees” (Ex-offenders 3)
Similarly to service leavers, there was a tendency among some respondents to regard the employment of ex-offenders purely as a charitable or socially responsible act. While the latter might be important to some employers, there is a risk that adopting such a stance will prevent people from recognising the opportunities and potential that exists in the employment of an individual who was once in prison.
“I would have thought that if you were in the right place and you were offering people a job in the right way [this could be effective]. Maybe that is a bit of work that would have to be done within the agricultural Industry in terms of the way they recruit” (Ex-offenders 3)
Recruitment of ex-offenders can occur via several routes. The first is through the provision of training on ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence). This usually follows a stringent interview process, including a risk assessment, and helps to identify the suitability of the individual to the work. Prisoners leave prison for the day, complete a full or partial day of work, and then return to prison at the end of the day.
While not all initiatives rely on ROTL, those that incorporate it into their recruitment process report it as being very effective.
“We have huge success with that. The vast majority of people who join us on ROTL end up working in our business post - release” (Ex-offenders 2)
Secondly, where the above options are not viable, due to either prison sentence length, or the type of category of the prison, recruiters base their recruiting decisions on interviews and risk assessments alone.
Thirdly, referrals from police, probation officers and other third party organisations assist with the matching process. And by building up a reputation as a business which is open to employing ex-offenders, on occasion individuals with a criminal record might contact a business directly looking for employment.
Finally, a ‘training ground’ can be set up within the prison grounds or on a prison estate and an experienced manager (of farming or pertaining to whichever industry is relevant) teaches the necessary skills to those prisoners who are interested/selected to take part. Obviously for some industries this is easier than others. Due to the fact that so many prison farms have been closed, this might not be as easy as it once was for the farming industry.
Prison farms and horticultural training units
Prison farms used to be a common feature of many prisons across the country. The first farm was set up in 1852 at HMP Dartmoor (Devine-Wright et al 2019) and between the 1960s and the 1990s, agriculture and horticulture played an important role in prison industries. At one point, 2,000 prisoners were employed annually, generating a profit of over £3 million and feeding up to 47,000 inmates three times a day (Wright 2017). As of the 1990s, and for a number of reasons, prison farms gradually began to close. The closure of local slaughterhouses (and thus increased transport costs), a change in animal welfare regulations, staffing costs, the diversion of resources away from qualitative assets (such as the benefits attained through farm work) to core services, the urban nature of the majority of prisoners, and the decreasing viability of agriculture as a career as the demand for labour decreased, as well as more stringent criteria for work-release causing labour shortages within the prison farms all led to these closures. According to Wright (2017), it was also the

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