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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

Initiative designed to provide accommodation to prison leavers

Up to 12,000 people leaving prison in England and Wales who are at risk of being released homeless will be offered temporary housing for up to 12 weeks, under a new government initiative to prevent re-offending.

Former offenders in stable accommodation are 50% less likely to commit further crimes, according to research, and the government's Community Accommodation Service scheme will provide an address for prison leavers which helps when seeking employment and accessing treatment for addictions and mental health problems.

Under the scheme, the former offenders will also be closely monitored by the Probation Service.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Damian Hinds, said: "This initiative is geared to prevent thousands of people from becoming victims each year by reducing the risk of offenders committing further crimes, saving the taxpayer some of the £18 billion cost of repeat offending."

"Getting offenders off the streets and into temporary accommodation provides the necessary foundation to break the cycle of crime and keep the public safe," he added.

Offenders housed under the scheme will be supported to find permanent accommodation and will also be referred to specialist support to get them off drugs and into employment or training. According to the latest figures, ex-prisoners in steady jobs are up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit further crimes.

The housing support will be underpinned by strict supervision from the Probation Service and offenders who are in breach of their licence conditions can be returned to prison.

The scheme was initially launched in July 2021 and piloted successfully in five Probation Service regions.

The initiative is part of the government's wider plan to reduce re-offending and will also complement the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy which will help more than 7,000 prison leavers at risk of homelessness into private rental accommodation.

Sammy Odoi, managing director at Wipers, said: "Any initiative designed to help former offenders with housing, employment, education or training coupled with support to access specialist treatment for addiction or mental health problems should be welcomed."

"A package of measures needs to be put in place for each individual leaving prison, tailored to that person's requirements, which provides them with support to access ETE opportunities, housing and healthcare services which can also be complemented by mentoring or counselling to provide additional one-to-one support," concluded Sammy.


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