The Ministry of Justice has announced 530 businesses have signed up to its Temporary Licence scheme, which is also known as RoTL. This includes Pret a Manger, the Greene King pub chain, Virgin Trains and the DHL parcel service. Ministers are hoping this will stop those who are considered to be of low public risk from returning to a life of crime after they are released from prison.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and ultimately keep the public safe.
“Many organisations are recognising the value of giving offenders a second chance.
“We have carefully listened to their feedback before making these changes.
“I urge more businesses to join this movement and help ex-offenders turn their backs on crime for good.”
The Government has previously struggled to companies to get on board with this idea, in case it put customers off.
The RoTL scheme was first offered to inmates in the last 12 months of their sentences.
But now any prisoner who their governor thinks is suitable will be given the opportunity too.
After they have passed a risk assessment, prisoners nearing the end of their sentences will be released temporarily to attend work placements in the community.
But this could include people convicted of more serious crimes, such as murder or rape, if they are nearing the end of a long sentences.
The workers will be paid at least the minimum wage, although their earnings may be different depending on their employers.
Some of their pay will also be deducted and put into the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is a victims’ compensation scheme.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a welcome initiative from the Government, as securing a job is a key way to help people out of crime.’
“Extending the use of RoTL will get prisoners off their prison bunks and into meaningful education and employment in the community, preparing for them for life once they are released.”