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Prisoners' Release: Females

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL1162, tabled on 16 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent vulnerable women from returning to prison after they have been released from custody.

Answered on

30 June 2021

The Government is committed to ensuring vulnerable women are supported on their release from prison to rebuild their lives and stay out of prison. There is a range of activity underway to deliver this commitment.

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 to secure long-term settled accommodation before the end of that 12-week period. Initially launching in five probation regions, the service will support around 3,000 offenders in its first year and will be commencing this Summer. It will be in operation during the 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 Probation Practitioners, working together with local partners, will be responsible for ensuring that vulnerable female prison leavers receive appropriate support and are provided with housing beyond the 12 weeks emergency accommodation.

Under the new probation arrangements, women’s contracts worth £46 million have been let under the dynamic framework, and awarded to organisations providing wraparound support to address the complex needs of women in or at risk of contacting the criminal justice system. Commissioned Rehabilitation Services started delivery on 26th June 2021 and will include services to assist with accommodation, employment training and education, financial benefit and debt and personal well-being.

These will provide a holistic service for all women leaving prison from providers based in the community they are released to. The accommodation service and mentoring service both start pre- release. The mentoring service aims to support those who lack social support make the transition from prison to community and assist in building social networks

The Government recognises the vital role played by women’s community sector organisations in supporting women released from prison and preventing them from returning. On 11th June 2021, the Government launched a £2.5 million grant funding opportunity to provide further support to these organisations, on top of £7 million already invested since the Female Offender Strategy was published in 2018. Like a similar competition held last year, the present funding is available to pay core costs and is designed to promote greater financial stability throughout the sector.