Ex-convicts could help plug staff shortages in London’s pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas, said Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.

The capital’s hospitality sector is struggling with crippling staff shortages, executives say, threatening the future of one of London’s most important industries.

To help address the crisis, the Government is launching a scheme with Wandsworth Prison to help ex-offenders retrain as chefs, waiters and bar staff.

Mr Raab told the Standard: “Hospitality has been hit hard by coronavirus, with many staff changing careers and businesses now looking to fill jobs.

“That’s why HMP Wandsworth is on a recruitment drive to encourage vetted and appropriate ex-offenders into the sector to fill those gaps. It’s a rewarding career for someone in need of a second chance and a way businesses can help us cut re-offending.

“I’m determined to use more prisoners to keep London’s hospitality industry thriving whilst ensuring its streets are safer than ever before.”

The Justice Secretary, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday set out plans to boost the number of prisoners gaining skills and prison leavers in jobs in sectors from agriculture to transportation six months after release.

At the same time the Government published new polling which showed that 90 per cent of businesses which employ ex-offenders said they are reliable and good at their job.

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