No sooner than 20 former conventionally caged hens were out on the range they were back behind bars as the latest inmates of HM Prison Holloway.

The birds were acquired through the British Hen Welfare Trust by the prison as part of a garden programme to provide education and therapeutic projects for its population of women and young offenders.

“This is a really interesting experiment and a real opportunity from the charity’s point of view. It is apt and extraordinary on so many levels that some of the prisoners will be able to take care of something,” Re-homer at the British Hen Welfare Trust, Jean Gill said.

“Holloway Prison has never kept hens before so it is a brand new initiative and learning curve for them. Some of the prisoners who work in the gardens will be responsible for the hens, feeding and taking care of them.”

But life will be pretty good for the feathered jail birds, free-ranging around the prison’s gardens, safe in the knowledge that it would take a very determined fox to come for them.