Basic housing to keep offenders off the streets and stop crime

  • Housing ex-prisoners at risk of homelessness to reduce reoffending
  • Get 12,000 criminals in England and Wales off the streets
  • Part of the government’s campaign to stop rough sleeping and stop crime

Up to 12,000 prisoners in England and Wales who are at risk of being released homeless will be offered temporary accommodation for up to 12 weeks as part of the Community Housing Service scheme.

Evidence shows that offenders in stable accommodation are 50% less likely to commit other crimes – reducing the £18 billion annual cost of recrimination to society. Having an address also allows offenders to find work and access treatment for addiction and mental health problems, while being closely monitored by the probation service.

The scheme, which was initially launched in July 2021 and has been successfully piloted in 5 probation service areas, aims to leave prisons at risk of slipping back into a life of crime – ultimately keeping the public safe and reducing reoffending.

Prisons and Probation Minister Damien Hinds said:

This initiative aims to prevent thousands of people becoming victims each year by reducing the risk of perpetrators committing further crime, saving taxpayers some of the £18 billion cost of repeat offences.

Getting offenders off the streets and sheltering them in temporary accommodation provides the foundation needed to break the cycle of crime and keep the public safe.

Offenders who are housed under the scheme will be supported to find permanent accommodation and will also be referred to specialist support to get them off drugs, employment or training.

Recent figures show that ex-prisoners with steady jobs are known to be up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit more crimes.

This support will be supported by the strict supervision of the Monitoring Service. Offenders who breach the terms of their license can be sent back to prison.

Janet, who spent 6 weeks in the residence, said:

Having a roof over my head after coming out of the prison gates kept me from living on the street or going back to my ex-wife and getting into trouble. While there, I gained some independence and secured a lease. I would not have been able to do so without the foundations that this temporary housing offered me.

Today’s news is part of broader government efforts to reduce the frequency of abuse and keep the public safe. Last month saw the launch of 3 new ‘intensive oversight courts’ designed to force low-level offenders to address their core issues so they can get back on the straight and narrow.

Thousands of prisoners have also been helped to work on their release by following innovative schemes such as Employment Advisory Boards, which have been deployed in 92 prisons to improve the education and training on offer. These measures have helped more offenders find a stable job with the latest stats showing the percentage of prison leavers who find work within 6 months from 23% to 30% since 2022.

This scheme will complement the government’s Rough Sleep strategy which will help over 7,000 prison leavers who are at risk of homelessness in private rental accommodation. The scheme is backed by over £40m and will help councils provide rent deposits, landlord incentives and dedicated support staff.

Ellie King, Senior Director of the Department of Housing Actions, said:

We are extremely proud to have been involved in this scheme since its inception and have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of those leaving prison. Providing a safe space, support and stability can help break the cycle of reoffending, and this increases the chance of successful reintegration into society.

The consistently positive feedback we receive from social care support visits and interactions with those leaving prisons shows that this scheme makes a real difference and provides hope for the future.

Notes to editors

  • The Community Housing Scheme commenced in July 2021 in 5 of the 12 Monitoring Service Areas: Yorkshire, Humber, Greater Manchester, North West, East of England, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Wales was added in July 2022
  • The scheme is now being rolled out among the remaining six regions: North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, South Central, South West and London.
  • Between July 2021 and January 2023, the statistics show that the proportion of offenders who had a place to stay the first night of their release from prison was 7.6 percentage points higher in areas that offer this service than in those without a place. .
  • In 2019/20 (last post pre-COVID performance) there were approximately 12,000 prisoners (16%) released either asleep or homeless

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