PRISONERS on release from HMP Haverigg were employed to work at the Holker Hall Winter Market, it has been revealed.

A member of staff from the prison contacted this publication and said they were 'shocked' to see prisoners working at the event - and claimed two were sex offenders. 

Holker Group confirmed it supported the Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) scheme for the first time this year. 

HMP Haverigg is a Category D open prison which means that prisoners can go on ROTL schemes towards the end of their sentences, subject to strict conditions. 

A prison service spokesperson said the prisoners were supervised 'at all times'.

The reader said: "I attended the winter markets at Holker with my family. The markets and the atmosphere inside was really good, however, I have to say I was deeply shocked to see convicted prisoners, two of whom I know to be sex offenders, in high visibility coats directing traffic and members of the public.

"I am fully aware of risk assessments however these only go so far and when you have unsupervised, dangerous convicted sex offenders in these environments the risks are unimaginable. I'm sure the thousands of people who attended these markets would also be extremely concerned if they were aware." 

A spokesperson from Holker Group said: "In common with many other employers, we have chosen to support the Release on Temporary License scheme run by Haverigg Prison.

"The Ministry of Justice initiative ensures that individuals who are coming to the end of their custodial sentence are able to leave prison to work in the community. This only happens once they have been interviewed by a board of senior prison staff and carefully risk assessed for their suitability for a particular work placement.

"This was the first time Holker has supported the supervised programme, and the safety of our staff, visitors and residents remained of utmost importance at all times."

The Ministry of Justice said that work placements on ROTL schemes are designed to help offenders learn skills and gain work experience, so they can find jobs on release and turn their backs on crime. 

If any rules are broken a prisoner will be returned to prison and they will not get ROTL. They also said that supervision means that there was no risk of unnoticed contact with children and vulnerable people. 

A prison service spokesperson said: "Prisoners are subject to tough risk assessments before they are allowed out on temporary release and these offenders were supervised at all times. They must also abide by strict rules and face punishment if they do not comply.”