Various pilots have been launched across the UK as part of the Prison Leavers Project, a cross-government initiative helping offenders released from prison. It is hoped this will cut reoffending.
Prison Leavers Project
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What is the Prison Leavers Project?
The Prison Leavers Project is a £20m initiative designed to break the cycle of crime. It is working across sectors to test different ways of reducing reoffending amongst prison leavers. Evidence will be collected along the way. The most successful interventions will then be scaled up over time.
What pilot schemes have been launched?
As part of the project, 11 pilot schemes have been launched across the country. Seven of these were given funding back in June 2021. They are: BounceBack, Catch 22, Grown Change Live (in Cheshire and in the Midlands), The Innovation Unit, NEPACS and New Futures Network/Antz Junction.
Another four have been given funding, with the pilots starting in May 2022. They are: the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Llamau, the Nelson Trust and the St Giles Trust. Each pilot has a slightly different focus and operates on a local level.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley will use their funding for staff training, and to support prison leavers in the area to reduce homelessness and increase employment.
Llamu will focus on young men in Wales to reduce homelessness, and improve family relationships and community integration.
The St Giles Trust will provide housing and mental health support for offenders in Yorkshire with complex needs. Their target is offenders who are released from prison on a Friday when most services are closed.
The Nelson Trust will establish a women’s centre in HMP Eastwood Park. The centre will provide holistic, gender-responsive, trauma-informed services for women. Offenders with a history of trauma and abuse will be supported while settling back into the community. The centre will also offer housing support, substance misuse support, and help contact between mothers and children.
The pilots will be evaluated during their delivery and for 12 months after the offender’s release. The most effective in reducing reoffending will be rolled out on a larger scale.
What else does the project involve?
Along with these 11 pilot schemes, the Prison Leavers Project is setting up cross-sector teams known as ‘Service Communities’. These bring together members of the public and charities to help prison leavers. Particular attention will be paid to the prison leaver’s health and wellbeing, the day of their release from prison, their community and relationships, and their employability and skills.
Furthermore, the project is setting up something called the Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge. Start-ups and SMEs have been invited to develop and pilot new digital or technological solutions to address the challenges in reoffending.
Why is the Prison Leavers Project needed?
Reoffending costs the economy £18billion. At least 80% of offenders already have at least one conviction or caution. The government hopes that in tackling reoffending, it can cut crime – and costs. Those who are released from prison without an address or employment are particularly at risk of reoffending. Statistics show that homeless prison leavers are 50% more likely to reoffend, while those who secure employment within 12 months of release are less likely to reoffend.
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