Driver training for HMP Leyhill prisoners
An expanded programme of industrial vehicle training is helping the employment prospects of prisoners at Leyhill open prison in Gloucestershire.
According to the prison's Industries Farms Manager, Roger Griffiths, the programme is an essential part of the rehabilitation and education process that discourages prisoners from re-offending after release.
"If they can leave here with qualifications that help them get a worthwhile job, they are less likely to revert to crime," says Mr Griffiths. "Training to operate industrial vehicles like forklifts, backhoe-loaders and tractors presents them with new opportunities."
Latest vehicle to join HMP Leyhill's training resources is a 44hp McCormick GX45 tractor. This is the mid-range model in McCormick's GX range of compacts that come with a choice of mechanical and hydrostatic drive.
"This is an ideal tractor for driver training because with no cab you can easily talk to the trainee and see what he's doing," says David Edwards, one of two qualified training staff employed at the prison. "Visibility for the driver is excellent and the controls are laid out logically - and it's just the sort of tractor that's used for grounds maintenance and horticultural work."
With landscaping a priority on new housing, office and industrial developments, there is good demand for people with the ability to use compact tractors and implements.
"Prisoners taking the City & Guilds course in driving and implement operation develop specialist skills and a knowledge of health and safety issues," Mr Griffiths explains. "It gives them a better chance than otherwise of securing a job with a landscape contractor or local authority than someone who has to be trained from scratch."
The tractor supplied by Uphill & Sons - McCormick's sales and service dealer for Gloucestershire and north Somerset - has a 16 forward, 16 reverse shuttle gearbox to give a good range of working and travel speeds. The rear implement lift and pto drive can supplemented by front and underbelly attachment points for different machines, making the tractor a truly versatile power unit.
According to Julian Bown of Uphills, the McCormick GX is proving a popular little workhorse - whether equipped with the tractor grip tyres fitted to HMP Leyhill's example or the big turf tyres that enable it to work on delicate surfaces with a soft tread.
Photo 1: Roger Griffiths (right), Farms Industries Manager at HMP Leyhill, with training officer David Edwards aboard the McCormick GX45 tractor used to help inmates become qualified tractor drivers.
Photo 2: In the woods - practical training in the use of tractors like the McCormick can help prisoners get worthwhile employment in the landscaping and horticultural industries.
Vikky Morley - Communications Manager
McCormick Tractors International Ltd
Wheatley Hall Road