Meat processing plants in the UK have announced their intention to employ more prisoners to make up for the shortfall of conventionally-employed workers in the sector.

The prisoners that industry representatives have said will be targeted for recruitment are those which have been granted release on temporary licence (ROTL) - meaning these prisoners will already have been permitted to leave their prison in specific circumstances.

Some meat factories have also attempted to recruit ex-armed forces personnel to fill vacancies, although the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has commented that such efforts were largely unsuccessful.

Meetings have taken place between meat industry representatives and the Ministry of Justice on Monday to further the sector’s plans to solve food worker shortages.

Prison training

One food manufacturer is understood to have already linked up with a prison to deliver training for inmates for post-release employment and other AIMS member plants have reportedly used ROTL workers with positive results.

AIMS has also stated that although the body has been unsuccessful in sourcing ROTL workers for its processor member from one open prison, it is believed that prisoners from other institutions may help solve the sector’s worker shortage.

The meat industry organisation went on to explain that many prisoners are suitable for employment in the food processing sector as employment-orientated training courses provided by correctional institutions often include lessons on food safety.