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Accommodation and support for adult offenders on release from prison

New report

24 July 2020
Accommodation and support for adult offenders on release from prison

HM Inspectorate of Probation have published a report on the accommodation and support available for adult offenders on release from prison in England. The report finds that widespread homelessness and a lack of suitable housing is jeopardising public protection and opportunities for rehabilitation, with individuals released from prison into unstable accommodation being significantly more likely to reoffend.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice showed that 11,435 people were released from prison into homelessness in 2018-19, while 4,742 homeless people started community sentences. Inspectors were ‘particularly disturbed’ to find that over 3,700 individuals managed by the National Probation Service (NPS) left prison homeless in this period.

The Inspectorate reported on the status of 116 individuals in the year after they were released from prison and found:

  • 16% were still homeless after 12 months and 15% were in unsettled housing
  • 63% of those released into unsettled accommodation were recalled or resentenced to custody within a year, compared to 35% who had settled accommodation
  • 65% of those released into unsettled accommodation had reoffended, compared to 44% who had settled accommodation

However, inspectors did find some positive practice including The Single Homeless Project, which delivers a housing advice service in 25 London boroughs and which achieved positive housing outcomes for 785 individuals in 2018-19. Other examples of good practice include the NPS’s work with a provider of housing support services in Hull and East Riding, as well as Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Community Rehabilitation Company’s matching individuals with units in shared properties in Luton.

Chief Inspector of Probation, Justin Russell, commented that a ‘stable address helps individuals to resettle back into the community: to find work, open a bank account, claim benefits and access local services’. Noting that the Covid-19 lockdown has further highlighted the urgent need to ensure housing for this often-vulnerable group, he called for a cross-government approach and a national strategy for the accommodation of offenders.

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