More prisoners being released homeless

Figures released in 2018 reveal that more prisoners are being released homeless.

The data was obtained by the Revolving Doors Agency after they submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) last year.

The data shows a steep rise in men and women being released homeless from prison, with a rise from 37 individuals (quarter beginning 1st October 2016) to 813 individuals (quarter beginning 1st April 2018). Part of the reason for the massive increase is that the MOJ has much more information now about where released prisoners are living.

The figures also show that women leaving prison are more disproportionately affected than men. 5.1% of women prison leavers were sleeping rough compared to 4.2% men. The figures increased for those serving short sentences – 7.7% short sentence women were rough sleeping and 7.4% men.

Similarly, female prison leaves categorised as “other homeless” was higher than for male prison leavers at 14% (male prison leavers: 11.2%).

The rise in prison leavers sleeping rough reflects the stark increase in homelessness across the country. At least 320,000 people are sleeping rough in Britain according to research by Shelter, a year-on-year increase of 13,000 people.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room. We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”

Tracy Wild, CEO Langley House Trust, said: “It is disheartening to see this increase in the number of people leaving prison homeless. For rehabilitation to work, prison leavers need to have the right housing and support around them, otherwise it is almost impossible to tackle issues with drugs, mental health and debt, all of which can lead to repeat offending and more victims of crime. We have seen a significant cut to funding of supported housing in recent years – there is now simply not enough housing to go around. We need a sustainable housing solution for offenders to reverse this shocking trend and to see prison leavers housed and supported.”