PRISONERS are taking over a popular restaurant to serve Sunday lunch to diners this weekend.

In total, seven inmates from HMP Kirklevington Grange near Yarm will be running the Fork in the Road restaurant in Middlesbrough, with the help of managers.

The restaurant, which is Middlesbrough's top rated on Trip Advisor, was opened by businessman and philanthropist Andy Preston to help former inmates, recovering addicts and unemployed people.

The venue said some prisons run restaurants on their premises that are open to the public, but they believed this was the first time a regular venue had been taken over and run by inmates.

Mr Preston had the idea for the takeover while he discussed the success a serving inmate was making of his day release there with the Governor Angie Petit.

HMP Kirklevington Grange is a resettlement prison for Category D male adult offenders nearing the end of their sentences and it aims to prepare them for release.

Mr Preston said: "The prisoners will be adhering to our high standards of quality and service and they know this can be the start of a brighter future for them.

"The prison system is full of people who want to go straight, but it's easier said than done.

"The guys who work with us will have skills they can show to a potential employer."

Ms Petit said: "Nothing beats the challenge and responsibility of working in a real world business when it comes to preparing them for life outside of prison."