Ex-prisoners should ‘absolutely’ plug shortages to wean UK off foreign labour, says Justice Sec

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk attends the weekly government cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on May 23, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

EX-LAGS should “absolutely” be drafted onto building sites and into restaurants to help wean us off foreign labour, the new Justice Secretary says.

Alex Chalk showed HOAR around a prison to talk tough justice ahead of bumper migration stats out on Thursday.

Prisoners should help plug shortages in hospitality and construction, the Justice Secretary said

He insisted that former prisoners were harder working, “more reliable” employees than others in the workforce because it means more to them to have a job.

In his first interview since taking over from Dominic Raab, he paid tribute to him and said he was sad to see him stand down as an MP after a probe found he’d bullied staff.

New migration stats out on Thursday morning are expected to show nearly a million more people came to Britain last year – despite Tory promises to slash the numbers.

When grilled on whether prisoners should help fill Britain’s shortages rather than relying on foreign labour, he replied: “Absolutely. It’s good for society as labour market shortages are filled – and there are about a million of them.”

Construction bosses taking them on told him they were “better” than other workers as they are “more determined, more committed, and hungrier for the opportunity – that’s a win win.

“[These workers] can be some of your most hard-working, reliable employees.”

He pointed to huge shortages in hospitality which firms like Co-Op, Greggs and Pret are working with former inmates to get them back into work.

Those with a job after they come out are 10 per cent less likely to reoffend and stay on the straight and narrow.

Meanwhile, new stats show the numbers steered into work within six months has doubled to 30 per cent since April 2021.

Mr Chalk opened a new DHL centre at HMP High Down yesterday – built by cons – where several prisoners have been trained, and then secured well-paid jobs ready and waiting for them when they get out.

Galliford Try construction firm have been inundated with people who want to work in some of the 5,000 jobs they have up for grabs.

Ricky Turvey, 33, from Essex, who was jailed for drug dealing but has since turned himself around with a bricklaying course, said: “I’ve learned my lesson – I don’t want to be here again.”

Heather Bryant of Galliford Try said: “What better way is there to fill shortages than loads of people you can tap into, train and mentor – it’s an untapped resource for us.”

Last night Mr Chalk said he didn’t recognise Mr Raab’s claims of “civil service activism” that he says brought him down.

The Justice Secretary insisted: “I expect high standards, but I have some very high quality civil servants.

“I am sad Dom will be standing down – I see in him someone with enormous intellect and I know he has an enormous amount to contribute in whatever he decides to do.”

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