Prison Leavers Project
The government has announced further projects as part of the Prison Leavers Project, which is a cross-government initiative helping offenders released from prison. Statistics demonstrate that offenders who are released from prison without an address are approximately 50% more likely to reoffend. Those who obtain employment within 12 months of release are less likely to reoffend.
Reoffending costs the economy £18billion, with at least 80% of offenders having at least one conviction or caution. The government aims to assist offenders with employment in order that they can contribute to society and crime can be cut.
The Prison Leavers Project is a £20m Shared Outcomes Fund initiative that works across sectors to test new ways to break the cycle of crime and reduce reoffending. The Project promotes collaboration across all sectors and at a local level. The evidence obtained will be used to assess what works to reduce offending by rapidly developing and testing multiple interventions on a small scale. The most effective interventions can then be scaled up over time.
The Project develop opportunities to tackle reoffending through three different routes:
- Cross-sector teams
- Local Leadership and Integration Fund
- Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge.
The Local Leadership and Integration Fund (LLIF)of £6.7m has been awarded to eleven pilots. The fund is split between two rounds of completion, with the maximum grant award per bid being £1m. The fund is to focus specifically on local systems leadership, providing grant funding and support to empower local leaders and agencies.
In June 2021, seven pilots received £3.9m, many of them running since Autumn 2021; these are BounceBack, Catch 22, Grown Change Live (in Cheshire and in the Midlands), The Innovation Unit, NEPACS and New Futures Network/Antz Junction.
Pilots beginning in May 2022 have been awarded £2.8m, these are the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Llamau, Nelson Trust and the St Giles Trust.
The pilots will be evaluated throughout their delivery and for 12 months after the release of the offender. This will help to work out which approaches are most effective in reducing offending.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley intends to use the money to provide a package of staff training. Support will also be offered to prison leavers in the area to reduce homelessness and improve employment outcomes.
Llamau will target interventions for young men in Wales to reduce homelessness and improve family relationships and community integration.
The St Giles Trust is to 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 many services are closed.
The Nelson Trust will be establishing a Women's Centre in HMP Eastwood Park to deliver a holistic, gender-responsive, trauma-informed service for women. The Centre will work in partnership with several agencies to remove service barriers and meet individual needs. Female offending is often driven by domestic abuse, and offenders with a history of trauma and abuse will be supported in settling back into the community. The pilot will also offer housing and substance misuse support and facilitate contact between mothers and children.
The cross-sector teams are to be known as 'Service Communities', bringing together colleagues from across the public and third sector. Their focus will be on health and wellbeing, the day of release from prison, community and relationships, and employability and skills.
The Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge is working with organisations such as start-ups and SMEs to develop and pilot new digital or technological solutions to address challenges in reoffending.
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[Image credit: "Into the Prison" by Bill Nicholls is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]