Recruitment specialist Anthony Dean has an answer for concerns about a post Brexit labour shortage on farms – recruit prisoners for the work.

“I just joined the dots when I heard a radio news bulletin saying that Kent farmers are worried about their temporary labour,” said Mr Deane, who recently moved from Buckinghamshire to Folkestone in Kent where he has set up a new recruitment business, Simpson Dean Ltd.

The NFU has recently warned that British crops could be left unharvested without access to labour post Brexit. It says loss of labour could have a devastating impact on the horticulture industry.

While he was working for a recruitment business in Buckinghamshire, Mr Dean successfully recruited prisoners from Spring Hill prison to work in a broiler factory. The arrangement petered out because the broiler plant wanted more workers for more hours and the prison service could not give Mr Dean an extension on the prisoners’ licence to be out working. “That licence was for 10 hours, but in Kent the licence is for 15 hours – which would give more travel time,” Mr Dean said.

Some of the prisoners in the plant were convicted murderers, he explained. “They had had to go through so many hoops as part of their rehabilitation and this was the last stage before they went out into the real world.” Two of the 15 workers who Mr Dean supplied eventually took jobs with the plant.

Mr Dean went to the prison to meet candidates and ensure they were the right person for the job. The only clearance he needed was that he had to have been trading for a year. Because of his long standing relationship with Spring Hill, the clearance has been transferred to his work in Kent.

He has already approached one prison in Kent which may have between 200 and 300 inmates who are ready for work. Mr Dean – whose business covers recruitment across many different sectors – has spoken to 15 growers so far, and all have asked for an email. He will also explain the full idea in a face to face meeting.

Prisoners arrange their own transport to the workplace without security staff. Mr Dean would charge farmer clients one fee to include holiday pay, national insurance and payroll costs. “If I was paying the candidate employee £7.20 an hour national living wage, I would be charging between £10.90 and £11.62 an hour. That includes a 20% profit for me because it costs me just under £9 an hour to get that candidate out working.” Anyone interested can contact Mr Dean on 0207 082810 or 07976 613011 or email