On 28th July 2021 the Government unveiled their Beating Crime Plan which included measures to prevent prison leavers returning to the street and reoffending. These will include:
• Basic, temporary accommodation provided to keep prison leavers off streets to stop reoffending
• Extra investment in drug and alcohol treatment to rehabilitate offenders
Catching Lives are always pleased to see any initiatives that attempt to break the cycle of a ‘revolving door’ prison system in which people come out with little to no support in place and no accommodation to provide a safe base to allow them to begin to engage with services, leading many to simply end up back in prison. We have had many clients over the years who’ve been released to the streets, often with no more than the clothes they are wearing and a £46 discharge grant (though this is due to increase to £76 this summer- the first increase since 1996).
Even with this increase, it is not enough for them to secure any accommodation, and besides, by the time clients reach our daycentre for support most of this money has been spent on public transport to get to us, and food.
For others who cannot cope with a return to rough sleeping, often with no medication in place and no GP registration to secure vital medication, this amount is just enough for them to buy drugs as a way to self-medicate (as many of those we see released to the street have a range of physical and mental health issues) to help deal with the reality of sleeping rough in lieu of prescribed medication. A large number of deaths from drug overdoses, especially opiates such as heroin, occur in the first few days of prison release. Partly due to the above self-medicating and the fact people’s tolerance will often have dropped whilst having less access to drugs inside prison.
Hopefully this new plan will prove to be a vital step to in supporting prison leavers to stay out of the prison system and build new lives for themselves. Meanwhile, Catching Lives will continue to provide services to prison leavers who find themselves homeless upon release. These include: help to apply for a bank account benefits & housing, mental health support, as well as providing them with meals, showers, laundry and clothing and a postal address.
The full plan can be viewed here: