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Home / Latest News / Prison restaurant venture ‘helps cut re-offending rates for inmates’

Prison restaurant venture ‘helps cut re-offending rates for inmates’

A gourmet restaurant at Cardiff Prison where the dishes are cooked and served by criminals is helping slash rates of re-offending, new figures have shown.

The Clink Cymru on Knox Road, is on its way to reduce the re-offending rate of released prisoners who worked there to an astonishing 12.5%. The national average is 47%.

The 96-cover eatery employs 28 inmates from HMP Cardiff and HMP Prescoed in Usk, Monmouthshire, paying them about £14 for a 40-hour working week.

Bosses say the facility is going from strength to strength, and after a seven-month trial has now opened one evening – for private reservations only – on the last Wednesday of every month.

Among its typical menu options are “venison and wild boar ragout with game sausage, chargrilled polenta and seasonal vegetables” and a “celebration of rhubarb”.

The scheme is the brainchild of award-winning chef Alberto Crisci, who has worked at Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle Restaurant in Mayfair, London.

It opened following the success of the charity’s first restaurant, The Clink at HMP High Down.

Statistics show 47% of people who leave prison re-offend within one year – or 75% if they have no job or accommodation re-offend within two years.

Figures collated by an independent examiner, show the reoffending rate of Clink graduates in 2011 was 12.5% within a year.

But 2012’s figures look to be even more startling. Together with its sister restaurant,  the Cardiff restaurant trained 88 prisoners last year, of whom 26 were released into employment. To date only one of these has reoffended.

A spokeswoman for the Clink Charity said as well as working a full week, prisoners train towards gaining nationally recognised NVQ qualifications before returning to their cells in the evening.

“The bar has been set extremely high to ensure that all prisoners in training reach the required level to succeed in the industry. It is therefore vital that each trainee works in a similar environment to that of a 4-5 star hotel or commercial restaurant.”

When prisoners are released, The Clink Charity helps graduates find employment within the catering and hospitality industry and mentors them weekly for six-12 months to help them reintegrate back into society and not reoffend.

Chris Moore, chief executive of the charity, said as well as rehabilitating offenders, the restaurant helped improve the public’s perception of them.

“The Clink Charity’s sole aim is to reduce re offending rates. Not only do we train the prisoners up to gain their NVQ qualifications but we help them improve their soft skills such as confidence, motivation and pride. They also learn to work as part of a team.”

To be eligible to train and work at the restaurant, prisoners must have between six and 18 months left on their sentence.

They must also have resolved any issues, such as alcohol and drug dependency or anger management. Sex offenders are banned from working at The Clink Cymru.

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