To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that women are not released from prison into homelessness.
26 March 2021
We are committed to doing all we can to address the issues around female offending. It is vital that we do so to better protect the public and deliver more effective rehabilitation. This includes supporting women when they are leaving prison.
In June 2018, the Government published the Female Offender Strategy. This set out a programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. We have begun work on delivering the first of five Residential Women’s centres, a key commitment in our Strategy. These will provide a robust community alternative for women who would otherwise receive a short custodial sentence, offering safe residential accommodation and holistic support to address the often-complex needs that underlie their offending behaviour.
The Concordat on Women in or at risk of contact with the Criminal Justice System was a commitment in the Female Offender Strategy and was published on 23 January 2021. The Concordat contains an action plan that the signatory Government departments have agreed to deliver to work together more closely at a national level to identify and respond to the often multiple and complex needs of women. The Concordat strongly promotes the idea of and need for greater collaboration at local levels, including through the adoption of whole system approaches.
We are working across Government with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Welsh Government and Other Government Departments, to address the barriers offenders face in securing suitable accommodation.
We are investing more than £20m in supporting prison leavers at risk of homelessness into temporary accommodation. Individuals released from prison will be provided up to 12 weeks of temporary accommodation and will be supported into long-term settled accommodation before the end of that 12-week period. Initially launching in five national probation regions, the service will support around 3,000 offenders in its first year and will be commencing in Summer. It will be in operation during the next financial year 2021-22, with a view to scaling up and rolling out nationally.
The service will take account of the needs of women, including those with complex needs and accommodation provision will be dedicated to single gender usage as required. Community Offender Managers, working together with local partners, will be responsible for ensuring that vulnerable female prison leavers with complex needs receive appropriate support and are provided with housing beyond the 12 weeks emergency accommodation.