Basic housing to keep offenders off streets and cut crime

A record number of offenders at risk of homelessness will be temporarily housed in basic accommodation as part of a national initiative to cut crime, Prisons Minister Damian Hinds has announced

  • Accommodation for ex-prisoners at risk of homelessness to reduce reoffending
  • 12,000 offenders in England and Wales to be kept off streets
  • Part of government drive to stop rough sleeping and cut crime

Up to 12,000 prisoners in England and Wales at risk of being released homeless will be offered temporary housing for up to 12 weeks as part of the Community Accommodation Service scheme.

Evidence shows that offenders in stable accommodation are 50% less likely to commit further crimes - reducing the annual £18 billion cost of reoffending on society. Having an address also allows offenders to find work and access treatment for addictions and mental health problems, while being closely monitored by the Probation Service.

The scheme, which was initially launched in July 2021 and piloted successfully in 5 Probation Service regions, is aimed at prison leavers who are at risk of slipping back into a life of crime – ultimately keeping the public safe and reducing reoffending.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Damian Hinds, said:

"This initiative is geared to prevent thousands of people from becoming victims each year by reducing the risk of offenders committing further crimes, saving the taxpayer some of the £18 billion cost of repeat offending.

"Getting offenders off the streets and into temporary accommodation provides the necessary foundation to break the cycle of crime and keep the public safe."

Offenders housed under the scheme will be supported to find permanent accommodation and will also be referred to specialist support to get them off drugs and into employment or training.

The latest figures show ex-prisoners in steady jobs are known to be up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit further crimes.

This support will be underpinned by strict supervision from the Probation Service. Offenders who are in breach of their licence conditions can be returned to prison.

Janet, who spent 6 weeks in the accommodation, said:

"Having a roof over my head after walking out of the prison gates stopped me from living on the street or going back to my ex and getting into trouble. While I was there, I achieved some independence and got a tenancy. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the foundations offered to me by this temporary accommodation."

Today’s news is part of wider government efforts to reduce re-offending and keep the public safe. Last month marked the launch of 3 new ‘Intensive Supervision Courts’ designed to force low-level offenders to tackle their substance issues so they can get back on the straight and narrow.

Thousands of prisoners have also been helped into employment upon release following innovative schemes such as Employment Advisory Boards, which have been rolled out in 92 prisons to improve the education and training on offer. These measures have helped more offenders into a steady job with the latest statistics showing the proportion of prison leavers finding work within 6 months increasing from 23% to 30% since 2022.

This scheme will complement the government’s landmark Rough Sleeping Strategy which will help more than 7,000 prison leavers at risk of homelessness into private rental accommodation. The scheme is backed by more than £40 million and will help councils provide rental deposits, landlord incentives and dedicated support staff.

Ellie King, Senior Manager of Housing Action Management, said:

"We are extremely proud to have been involved in this scheme since its inception and the opportunity to make a positive change to the lives of prison leavers. Providing a safe space, support and stability can help towards breaking the cycle of reoffending, and this increases the chance of successful reintegration back into the community.

"The positive feedback that we constantly receive from our welfare support visits and interactions with prison leavers demonstrates that this scheme is making a real difference and providing hope for the future."

Ministry of Justice
HM Prison and Probation Service
The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP