Break The Cycle

 

This campaign started five years ago using the data collected from CatchingLives in Canterbury.  Within in their client base, there are a recurring number of people requiring support who are released from prison directly into street homelessness. We know that when prisoners are released into homelessness they are much more likely to re-offend than when released into supported or stable housing.  This means that releasing ex-prisoners into homelessness causes harm to them as individuals and to the wider community.

 

It costs approximately £46,000 to imprison a person in this country for a year, not taking into account police, court costs and all the other steps before sentencing.  This works out at approximately £126 for each day served in prison per person.  This amounts to £885 per week per person.  Imagine if our community had these funds to house and support an individual - and the positive outcomes that could enable?

 

In terms of Integrated Offender Management in the context of Transforming Rehabilitation, Nathan Dick (Head of Policy and Communications at Clinks) noted that the new probation providers were unlikely to have all the answers about how to work with the most chaotic and vulnerable offenders, and the voluntary sector would have much to offer here in terms of supporting the rehabilitation of these offenders and bring a focus on prevention.  (1)He stated that the sector brought greater flexibility, specialist expertise, and a range of different approaches.  He added that many organisations will not be commissioned, but provide valuable and effective services that can reduce crime and reoffending.  The voluntary sector needs to be recognised as more than just a provider of services, it can contribute to service redesign and complement commissioned services.

 

There is a well evidenced and complex relationship between homelessness and offending. Spending time in prison increases the risk of homelessness, and a lack of stable accommodation on release from prison in turn increases the risks of re-offending. This leads to a self-perpetuating negative cycle, commonly termed ‘the revolving door’. 

 

The campaign driver is to acknowledge all the difficult work that our partner agencies are doing and championing that.  We aim do this by working together towards the same aim, offering real rehabilitation to those who are released from prison to street homelessness; which in turn makes our community safer, makes our services more streamlined and most importantly makes our combined services more cost effective.

 

If the growth in the prison population is not reversed then more prisons will have to be built, at huge expense.  This is without taking into account the benefits to all of getting people back into the working population, contributing to taxes rather than being a drain on them and it is our case that proper supported rehabilitation for ex-prisoners makes financial and economic sense.

 

(2) National data estimates that more than three-quarters of prisoners (79%) who reported being homeless before custody were reconvicted in the first year after release, compared with less than half (47%) of those who did not report being homeless before custody.

 

With all of the above in mind, and through our own research we are now working with Together Kent, Seetec, Elmley Prison and the Parish of St Christopher’s in Ramsgate to provide accommodation for up to five men being released from prison to street homelessness.  The property has been made available for the project by Canterbury Diocese.  Campaign Kent are proud to be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of the break the cycle project : https://www.canterburydiocese.org/mission/together-kent/break-the-cycle/  

Members of the parish have offered to volunteer at the project to ensure that there is community engagement with the tenants.  This is the unique part of the project and under the key findings of the Desistance – General Practice Principles set out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, the research highlights the importance of both internal factors, e.g. what the individual believes in, and external/social factors, e.g. the supportiveness of those around the individual.  Volunteers will be encouraged to adopt an individualised approach, recognising that the desistance journey is different for each individual, develop positive relationships – individuals are influenced to change by those whose advice they respect and whose support they value and recognise and build upon people’s strengths, rather than focusing solely on individuals’ deficits.

 

We are always looking for volunteers to be trained and get involved, please get in touch if you're interested.

 

  1. Integrated Offender Management: Meeting the Future Challenges – National Conference 2015

  2. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/278806/homelessness-reoffending-prisoners.pdf