New £6M pilot scheme aims to prevent rough sleeping among ex-offenders

The Justice Secretary has launched a new scheme to help ex-offenders stay off the streets and away from crime.

David Gauke announced that Leeds, Pentonville and Bristol prisons will spearhead a £6 million pilot programme.

It is aimed at helping prisoners find and stay in stable accommodation and re-integrate into society.

Research shows that those who are homeless or in temporary accommodation are significantly more likely to re-offend within a year than those with a stable place to live, according to the Ministry of Justice.

In his annual report for 2017-18, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke flagged up an increase in the proportion of people released from prison without suitable or sustainable accommodation.

Under the new partnership approach, prisons, local authorities, probation staff and charities will work together to support prisoners when they are released.

This could include help signing up for benefits, but it will be primarily focused on finding suitable accommodation.

Mr Gauke said: “These ground-breaking pilots will help prevent rough sleeping among vulnerable ex-offenders and support them as they start a new life after prison.

“As well as ensuring people have somewhere to live, dedicated key worker support will help ex-offenders manage the practical challenges of finding a job and other issues that come with trying to reintegrate into society.

“Every time we help an ex-prisoner into a new life – with a stable home, strong relationships and a regular job – we increase the chances of seeing fewer victims of crime in the future.”

The pilots are aimed specifically at prisoners serving short sentences who are at high risk of returning to prison, the MoJ said.

Once the trial has completed, it will be evaluated to assess the potential for the scheme to be rolled out more widely across England, the department said, adding that it will work with the Welsh Government to deliver a similar solution.

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