Publication - Research and analysis

Housing and Reoffending: Supporting people who serve short-term sentences to secure and sustain stable accommodation on liberation - Research Finding

Published: 8 Jan 2016
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781785449291

The research focused on the problems that people who serve short sentences in Scotland have finding and keeping stable housing and the services that can help improve housing outcomes. The findings describe a complex cycle of housing problems faced by people serving short sentences, their interlinked causes and impacts and the difficulties these problems pose in desistance from offending.

15 page PDF

277.5 kB

15 page PDF

277.5 kB

Contents
Housing and Reoffending: Supporting people who serve short-term sentences to secure and sustain stable accommodation on liberation - Research Finding
4. Previous research and the context

15 page PDF

277.5 kB

4. Previous research and the context

Earlier research has found that people going into custody can already have housing problems, and that serving a sentence can create further housing problems.

Pre-existing housing problems can range from living in poor quality housing, having rent or mortgage arrears and impending court action (for example, on arrears), to having a ‘volatile’ housing history including homelessness and living in hostels.

Problems that can come about because of a sentence center on the loss of housing, leading to a need to find housing on release. Major causes of such loss include relationship breakdown, inability to pay rent or mortgage, and failure to take action (or difficulties taking action) by the individual to keep housing. Other problems caused by a sentence, including loss of possessions and increased mortgage/rent arrears, which can both be a barrier to securing and maintaining housing on release.

The resolution of housing problems for people who serve short sentences can be hindered by a range of issues and barriers, including benefits eligibility, lack of facilities to deal with housing problems in prisons, (for example, access to telephone or internet) and this group’s lack of skills. (See full report for detailed review of previous research).

Policy and practice context

The SPS has services in place to identify housing problems of people serving short sentences. This centers on a ‘core screening’ which involves collecting information from people when they enter prison and includes a section on housing. Additionally there is an voluntary induction process which can identify housing problems, it is available to all, but not taken up by all.

In Scotland all people seen as unintentionally homeless (including those liberated from prison) have the right to settled accommodation, if seen as intentionally homeless, they have the right to temporary accommodation. These homelessness services are delivered by local authorities and include the need to have a local connection, for example, having previously been resident in the area.

Everyone serving a sentence in Scotland has, in principle, access to throughcare services. These are holistic services that focus on reintegration and desistance, delivered by specialist staff during and after a prison sentence. Being holistic they include a housing element. The service is voluntary and not taken up by all. Further the level of service provided can vary and people serving a (short) sentence may not know about it.

For financial problems with setting up in housing people released from custody can apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund for help which could fund, for example, furniture or appliances.


Contact

Email: Julie Guy