By Chris Kidd • 30 August 2020 • 16:04
Homelessness among prison leavers set to increase as the government plans to remove current support arrangements.
Charities have issued a stark warning that UK prisoners could see homelessness as their only option upon release as the government assistance, that was put in place at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, comes to an end.
At the moment, prison leavers released on or before 31st August will continue to be received financial supported for up to 56 days, one of a number of measures put in place to ease strains on the prison service during the pandemic.
The assistance implemented during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK was allocated to assist any individuals released from prison in England and Wales who was potentially at risk of homelessness.
The charity, Nacro, whose specific mission is to assist ex-convicts coming out of prison has said that they believe that, even with the assistance still in place, 947 people became homeless when they left prison between 1 May and 8 June.
Nacro has also forecast a dramatic increase in homelessness for ex-prisoners and has called upon the government to reconsider. Nacro want the government to develop and implement a long-term strategy to deal with the issue before it spirals out of control.
It is clear that the government is already aware of the extent of the issue. The Ministry of Justice released figure which tracked homelessness in the post-prison population between 23 March 2020, when the UK lockdown was implemented, and 30 April 2020.
The figures showed that 840 men, 89 women and 85 young adults aged 18 to 24 in England and Wales were released into rough sleeping during that time.
Nacro advocate the necessity for prisoners to be release into a humane environment to ensure they are safe, and able to reassimilate into normal society to access support, get a job, and moving on in their lives and away from reoffending.
Research clearly demonstrates that two thirds of ex-offenders are likely to reoffend within their first year of release due to homelessness and subsequent feelings of despair and low-self-worth.
The Chief Executive of Nacro, Campbell Robb, said: “For people leaving prison ready to turn their lives around, being released with nowhere to live is simply setting them up to fail. And we know this leads to increased reoffending which impacts us all.”
He continued, “We are calling on the government to provide a long-term strategy to guarantee that everyone leaving prison will have somewhere to live and to outline how they plan to manage the transition for people now unable to access this extra support.”
These sentiments are supported by a recent report from the Chief Inspector of Probation who found that prison leavers who are settled into a secure environment are less likely to reoffend. In fact, the figure was 50% lower than those who were not released into settled accommodation.
Campbell Robb from Nacros said, “We rightly saw the government extend the eviction ban, as they recognised that to pull the plug from support without a long-term plan in place would have created a myriad of problems.”
“We need the same for people leaving prison. To reduce reoffending and give people the best chance at a second chance we need an ambitious plan from the government to work with charities and providers who are committed to breaking the cycle of cell, street, repeat.”
A spokesperson for the government said: “We continue to work with councils and charities to secure suitable accommodation, while investigating long-term solutions to help offenders turn their backs on crime and to prevent homelessness.”
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Chris has spent a colourful and varied international career in the Arts followed by a substantial career in Education.
Having moved to Spain in 2019 for a different pace and quality of life with his fiancé, he has now taken up a new and exciting role working with the online department of Euro Weekly News.
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