Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP has today revealed that more than 100,000 prisoners across England and Wales left prison for “unsettled” or “unknown” accommodation in the last three years, almost half of the 220,411 prisoners released in that period.
The Liberal Democrat MP said the new figures (spreadsheet here) proved “the criminal justice system is fundamentally failing when people are reoffending just to get a meal or a place to sleep.”
The Ministry of Justice figures show that 36,945 people (16.8%) were released to “unsettled accommodation” – mostly rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness – between April 2015 and March 2018. This group is much more likely to reoffend than those who have stable housing upon release.
A further 67,577 (30.7%) were released to unknown accommodation, making it much harder for them to continue to receive services to support rehabilitation.
Figures acquired by the Liberal Democrats through freedom of information reveal that HMP Norwich released 72% of its prisoners to unsettled or unknown accommodation in two-year period from April 2015 to March 2017, the highest proportion of any prison. The figures show that a total of 45 prisons released the majority of their prisoners to such accommodation in that period.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:
“To prevent reoffending, prisons should be places of rehabilitation and recovery, and that work must continue when offenders leave the prison gates.
“The thousands of people who have nowhere to go upon release are less likely to be able to get a job or have access to education or healthcare. It’s hardly surprising that some turn to stealing or even choose to go back to prison for the sake of a warm, dry bed.
“The criminal justice system is fundamentally failing when people are reoffending just to get a meal or a place to sleep.
“The Liberal Democrats have consistently argued that the Government must ensure arrangements are in place for housing, healthcare and benefits when people leave prison.”