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

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.


3.1. This chapter describes the housing-related services available to those who serve short sentences (question 3), and early evidence of improved outcomes (question 4). Further details are given in Annexe 3. Gaps in the availability and consistency of these services, and barriers to their effective delivery are then explored in Chapter 4.

The pattern and nature of services

3.2. The survey and discussions with research participants examined the pattern and nature of housing-related services: on imprisonment; during a sentence and approaching release; and on, and following release, as well as the co-ordination of these services.

Services on imprisonment

3.3. This sub-section describes the housing-related services available on imprisonment, and how they identify and address housing issues.

Services involved on imprisonment

3.4. The survey and discussions found that the main services involved in working with individuals to tackle any housing issues they faced on imprisonment were delivered by prison staff and housing services.

3.5. Prison staff in all prisons helped to identify and address housing issues (pghs A3:30-35). This included contact with people immediately on their imprisonment, by reception staff (in all prisons) and first night centre staff (where available, e.g. HMP Barlinnie and HMPYOI Polmont), or prison staff with a specific role to work with individuals in custody to address personal issues they faced, such as Link Centre staff and Personal Officers (in all prisons).

3.6. Housing services were available to provide specialist housing input on imprisonment in some form in all prisons, through a range of different arrangements (pghs A3:15-29). This did not mean, however, that a housing service would be available to all individuals in a prison who experienced housing issues (see Chapter 4).

3.7. The seven[6] prisons set out here had a housing service based in the prison. Of these:

  • One was provided directly by a local authority (HMP Barlinnie).
  • Three were provided by staff employed by a third party contracted by one or more local authorities (Foursquare in HMP Edinburgh; Aspire2Gether in HMP Kilmarnock; and West Lothian Council in HMP Addiewell on behalf of three councils).
  • Three were provided by staff employed by a third sector organisation, or partnership (Sacro in HMPYOI Cornton Vale; CABx in HMPs Inverness[7] and Dumfries).

3.8. The seven prisons set out here had housing services visiting to a regular programme (of varying frequency)[8]. Of these:

  • All had staff visiting from at least one local authority (HMPs Edinburgh; Glenochil; Greenock; Low Moss; Perth; HMPYOI Grampian; and HMYOI Polmont).
  • Two had staff visiting from Shelter (HMP Perth; and HMPYOI Grampian).

3.9. At the time of writing one prison (HMP Castle Huntly) did not have a housing service, except housing staff visiting on request by an individual or staff member. Local authority, housing association and third sector housing staff said they could visit prisons to deal with specific cases, on request.

3.10. Reintegration and other specialist services may also be involved on imprisonment, if an existing client was reconvicted (pghs A3:36-44). They would otherwise have a limited role (although most TSOs would introduce themselves, and make individuals aware of their services).

Identifying housing issues on imprisonment

3.11. In all prisons housing issues on imprisonment were identified in similar ways (pghs A3:50-58):

  • Reception (or first night centre) staff would identify immediate needs.
  • Staff (generally from the Link Centre) would administer a “Core Screen” (an SPS tool to identify needs, including housing issues) within 72 hours of admission.
  • Everyone admitted to custody would be invited (but not compelled) to attend an induction process, with a session on housing (generally delivered by SPS staff, but with a few examples of input from housing staff).

3.12. Some prison and housing staff gave examples of using additional methods, such as:

  • The Improving Offenders Housing Outcomes Project gathering additional housing information at the Core Screen stage in HMP Perth.
  • Other enhanced assessment arrangements in three prisons (the “Grampian Asset Profile” assessment at HMPYOI Grampian; Asset Inquiry Reports and the Low Moss PSP at HMP Low Moss; and reintegration projects at HMYOI Polmont).
  • Multi-agency case conferencing (described in various ways) in five prisons (HMPYOI Grampian; and HMPs Perth, Greenock, Inverness and Dumfries).
  • A list of admissions being given to relevant local authorities to identify any tenants in custody in three prisons (HMPs Dumfries and Perth; and HMPYOI Grampian).

3.13. Additional, less formal means of identifying housing needs mentioned included that:

  • Anyone in custody could use a standard referral procedure, available in all prisons, to request services.
  • As part of their day to day contact with individuals, any staff may identify issues.
  • Peer supporters in HMP Low Moss may identify issues.
  • Sources outside the prison may provide information (e.g. an individual’s family members or friends; landlords; solicitors; community-based housing officers; social workers; or other support workers).

Addressing housing needs on imprisonment

3.14. A range of ways were found by which housing needs on imprisonment were addressed (pghs A3:67-83).

3.15. If a housing need was identified, prison staff stated that they would log it on the national SPS prisoner records system (called PR2). Some housing staff (e.g. in HMP Barlinnie and HMPYOI Grampian) said that they would then pick this up directly from the PR2 system, as they had their own access to this. Otherwise prison staff would generally contact the relevant housing service (in the prison, if available, or in the relevant local authority if not) to make a referral.

3.16. In three prisons (HMPs Barlinnie, Glenochil and Low Moss) local authority housing staff had reached internal agreements whereby any of them could provide initial support to a resident from any of the local authority areas involved, before referring them on to a housing staff member from their home area.

3.17. Housing staff would then take action, although the nature of this varied. Where someone did not have access to housing staff, then prison, reintegration and other specialist staff working with them may provide some assistance with housing issues.

3.18. The research found that most prison and housing staff would help with Housing Benefit (and Universal Credit (UC)) claims, and would inform a landlord that a tenant was in prison. Staff in two prisons stated that they encouraged all new admissions to complete a “change of circumstances” form, which they would forward to their landlord (and Housing Benefit and UC provider, if relevant).

3.19. Some housing staff indicated that they would explore whether other actions could be taken (e.g. sub-letting or a joint tenancy). Around half of the local authorities in the survey indicated that they would provide services to help an individual to give up or transfer a tenancy.

3.20. Housing and prison staff in all prisons reported that they would consider other action they may be able to take (e.g. to recover possessions; secure a property; or make arrangements for relatives and / or pets). A positive example was given in Dundee of a church project providing space to store boxes of personal belongings.

3.21. In addition, positive examples were given where housing staff would carry out detailed homelessness prevention work at this stage, or take a comprehensive Housing Options approach (pgh A2:90).

Services during a sentence and approaching release

3.22. This sub-section describes the housing-related services available during a sentence and approaching release.

Services involved during a sentence and approaching release

3.23. The survey and discussions found that prison, housing, reintegration and some other specialist services were involved in working with individuals to tackle housing issues during a sentence and approaching release. (pghs A3:15-48).

3.24. Prison services’ input may involve Link Centre and Personal Officers, and others working routinely with individuals, such as: Family Contact and Visits Officers; and chaplaincy teams (in all prisons). Community Integration Unit (CIU) staff could also be involved (in HMPs Greenock and Inverness; and HMPYOI Grampian) (pghs A3:30-35).

3.25. The housing services found to be involved at this stage were largely the same as those mentioned at paragraph 3.7 above.

3.26. Reintegration services found to be involved included (pghs A3:36-44):

  • SPS Throughcare Support Officers [TSOs] (in all prisons in the study except HMP Castle Huntly).
  • New Routes PSP (for men under 25 in any of the 13 prisons holding men).
  • Shine PSP (for women in any of the five prisons holding women).
  • BAFC Moving On PSP (for males under 21 in HMYOI Polmont, returning to four of the 32 local authority areas).
  • Low Moss PSP (for anyone serving a short sentence in HMP Low Moss).
  • Smaller reintegration services (third sector-led, mentioned by eight prisons).

3.27. Other specialist services highlighted in the survey (11) included (pghs A3:45-48):

  • Four working with people leaving custody at risk of homelessness and requiring support (e.g. YPeople, for people leaving HMP Low Moss; and Sacro, for people returning to Glasgow and Aberdeen from any prison).
  • Seven working with specific groups with housing problems (e.g. Housing First, for drug misusers; or Cornerstone, for adults with learning difficulties and others).

3.28. Staff in all prisons noted that other organisations (e.g. Jobcentre Plus and the NHS) could also provide assistance to those approaching release with related issues such as benefits and health which, it was suggested, could impact on the likelihood of successful housing outcomes.

Identifying housing issues during a sentence and approaching release

3.29. All of the prisons were found to have similar arrangements in place for identifying housing issues approaching release (pghs A3:59-62). Around six weeks before their liberation date, all individuals would be called to the Link Centre for a basic assessment (by prison staff) of any support they may need on, or after release.

3.30. The research found that housing issues could also be identified through:

  • TSOs’ or other service providers’ wider work.
  • Assessments carried out by reintegration projects.
  • Direct contact between an individual and a housing staff member.
  • Multi-agency case management meetings.

Addressing housing needs during a sentence and approaching release

3.31. A range of ways were found by which housing needs during a sentence and approaching release were addressed (pghs A3:84-105).

3.32. Prison staff in all prisons said that, if housing issues were identified, they would make a referral to a housing service in the prison, if available (pgh 3.7) or, if not, in the person’s home local authority. The action taken by housing services was found to vary (pgh A3:103):

  • Around two thirds of local authorities in the survey reported that they would do an assessment of housing need at this stage.
  • Some local authorities would keep an application for housing “live” whilst an individual was in custody or make it "live" prior to release; and some would enable a new application.
  • Around a quarter of local authorities in the survey reported that they would consider pre-allocating accommodation for release.
  • Some housing staff (following the policy of the individual’s local authority) reported enabling people to make homelessness applications.
  • Some (again following local authorities’ policies) reported enabling individuals to make homelessness appointments for the day of release.

3.33. Where an individual did not have access to a housing service in prison, Link Centre staff, TSOs and other reintegration staff could provide a limited service to help with, e.g., information and organising appointments. A few would assist people to make homeless applications.

3.34. All prisons could, in principle, enable people to tackle rent or mortgage arrears during a sentence, with a few examples of people having paid some arrears from custody. At the time of writing, the SPS was planning to implement a standard process for this.

3.35. Examples were given of housing and reintegration services liaising with other services to co-ordinate appointment times for release, and make arrangements for individuals returning to distant local authority areas. A small number of examples were given of third sector specialist services working with people approaching release to provide accommodation and plan a support package (pghs A3:98-105).

3.36. Other examples of actions taken to address housing issues at this stage included (pghs A3:90-97):

  • An SQA award on “Tenancy and Citizenship” introduced at HMP Dumfries (which, at the time of writing, was being made available to other assessment centres).
  • Other short courses on budgeting and independent living skills (noted by staff in HMPs Barlinnie, Low Moss, Perth and Inverness; HMPYOIs Cornton Vale and Grampian; and HMYOI Polmont).
  • Community Integration Units (in HMPs Greenock and Inverness; and HMPYOI Grampian).
  • Pilot work to enable access to forms of ID (in HMPs Castle Huntly and Low Moss) and bank or credit union accounts (in HMPs Addiewell and Castle Huntly; and HMPYOI Grampian). At the time of writing, the SPS was working with the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) to improve access to bank accounts for all of those leaving custody.
  • Support to begin benefit claims and SWF applications.

Services on, and following release

3.37. This sub-section describes the housing-related services available on, and following release.

Services involved on, and following release

3.38. The survey and discussions found that housing, reintegration and other specialist services were involved in working with individuals to tackle housing issues on, and following release (pghs A3:107-116).

3.39. Housing services found to be involved on, and following release included:

  • Local authority homelessness teams and staff working with individuals in hostels, B&Bs and other temporary accommodation (in all areas).
  • Local authority and housing association staff working with tenants to address their support needs while in a tenancy (all local authorities and housing associations).
  • Third sector housing services such as Shelter (in all local authority areas).

3.40. Reintegration and other specialist services involved at this stage included those mentioned in paragraphs 3.26 and 3.27, and:

  • Criminal justice social work throughcare services (in all local authority areas).
  • Third sector services based in the community working with homeless men and women (e.g. YPeople, Sacro).
  • Services working with women (e.g. 218 or Tomorrow’s Women Glasgow).
  • Other relevant community-based services (e.g. CABx, food banks, furniture projects, money advice projects, those working with other specific groups).

Identifying housing issues on, and following release

3.41. The survey found that the main formal processes for identifying housing issues on, and following release were Housing Options assessments by local authorities (pghs A3:117-119). Housing staff stated, in discussions, that these were broadly similar across all local authority areas.

3.42. In addition, some reintegration and other specialist staff stated that their own review processes would examine housing issues. TSOs and others noted that their day to day work may uncover such issues, and individuals themselves could also raise them. Further, any other service working with an individual could report housing issues not raised previously (e.g. where an individual did not recognise that they were homeless, but a member of staff picked this up).

Addressing housing needs on, and following release

3.43. A range of ways were found by which housing needs on and following release were addressed (pghs A3:120-148).

3.44. The survey and discussions found that housing and reintegration services would support individuals to obtain and move into accommodation (generally after the individual presented as homeless) and to maintain the accommodation (and address any further housing issues arising).

3.45. Housing, reintegration and other specialist staff, as well as individuals, gave examples of a range of different procedures across Scotland for people to present as homeless and seek accommodation on the day of release. Generally, this would involve attending a housing appointment.

3.46. Most reintegration staff (including TSOs and PSPs) and some other specialist services stated that they would pick people up from prison on release and would normally accompany them to a housing appointment and assist with moving in to accommodation, if needed.

3.47. The survey identified that all social housing providers could provide accommodation, if available, to people released from short sentences. Local authority housing staff stated that this may include, for example: B&Bs; hostels; other temporary accommodation; or (in a few cases) permanent accommodation. All housing association participants indicated that they could provide accommodation, if they had it, to individuals leaving prison who met their criteria (relating, e.g. to age, disability etc.). A few examples were also given of third sector organisations providing accommodation with additional support to people on release (e.g. YPeople; Sacro; Housing First; and Cornerstone).

3.48. Housing staff identified a few examples of work being done to improve access to private sector accommodation. These were:

  • A third sector organisation (Shelter) in one local authority area (Dundee) making links to private landlords willing to house people who had served short sentences, provided the individual accepted six months' tenancy support.
  • A local authority (Argyll and Bute Council) keeping a list of landlords willing to take people on Home Detention Curfew (HDC).
  • A local authority (Fife Council) letting private sector properties for a minimum three year period, which were then sub-let to homeless people (with priority for those leaving prison).

3.49. All social housing providers (including: local authorities; housing partnerships; housing associations; and third sector organisations providing accommodation with additional support) stated in the survey and discussions that they could provide tenancy sustainment support to people in their accommodation. The level and type would vary with people’s needs, and some examples were given of intensive support being provided via key workers or mentors.

3.50. Reintegration staff (including TSOs) identified that they would generally provide ongoing services for a period in the community after release (e.g. six weeks by TSOs, and longer by the PSPs). This could include services to help people to manage their accommodation (e.g. through one to one personal support, advocacy and advice; practical support; and referral on to any other service they may need).

3.51. All of the additional specialist services in the community (pgh 3.40) would also be available on, and following release (if an individual met any eligibility criteria relating to age, gender, addictions etc.).

Co-ordination and joint working

3.52. The research found many examples of services working together at a regional and local level to address housing issues for people who serve short sentences.

3.53. A number of housing staff identified that Housing Options Hubs, which bring together groups of neighbouring local authorities to share knowledge and learning on Housing Options, would share good practice about work with those who serve short sentences.

3.54. Each CJA has identified housing as a specific issue in their action plans, although they do not have a role in co-ordinating housing and reoffending work.

3.55. As noted in paragraph 1.27, the SPS appointed a housing specialist in late 2014 with a remit to develop national policy, and provide advice and assistance to staff (including in the private prisons). Part of their role involves linking with partners, including the Housing Options Hubs and reintegration services (e.g. TSOs and PSPs). Within individual prisons, the research found that most support to address housing issues was co-ordinated by the Head of Offender Outcomes (as part of overall support for those in custody).

3.56. The survey and discussions found some examples of protocols and agreements aimed at co-ordinating services. Some covered more than one area, for example:

  • The Improving Offenders Housing Outcomes project at HMP Perth which involved the SPS and four local authorities (Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross).
  • The Lothian and Borders Joint Protocol for the Housing and Support Assessment of Offenders, covering four prisons (HMPs Addiewell and Edinburgh; HMPYOIs Cornton Vale and HMYOI Polmont) and five local authority areas (East Lothian, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian).

3.57. In other cases, individual local authorities had devised their own protocols (e.g. Prison Discharge Protocols developed by North Lanarkshire and Moray Councils in conjunction with the SPS). Some local authorities reported that the co-ordination of support to those leaving custody was covered by their overall homelessness prevention strategy (e.g. Renfrewshire Homelessness Partnership).

3.58. Housing staff based in some prisons, and those visiting on a regular basis would take part in wider prison case conferencing (pgh A3:54) and many prison, housing and reintegration staff gave examples of local joint working on a case by case basis.

Early indications of improved outcomes

3.59. There was a common overall view that there were early indications that addressing housing issues could lead to improved outcomes in the areas highlighted at research question 4 (housing; health; employment and reoffending).

3.60. Much of the evidence given of these improvements was from small-scale work or the outcomes of individual cases, but those who provided examples believed that these held useful lessons for achieving positive housing outcomes more widely for those who serve short sentences.

Housing-related outcomes

3.61. Housing and prison staff gave many examples of where their interventions had helped people keep their accommodation while in prison. A few staff stated specifically that the majority of individuals who engaged with a housing service while in prison were able to retain their tenancies, even where they faced complex difficulties. Staff in several prisons (e.g. HMPs Addiewell, Barlinnie, Low Moss and Perth) stated that proactive early action had led to a decrease in the number of abandonments and evictions.

3.62. Examples were given where staff had persuaded landlords to allow tenancies to continue, or where a tenancy had been transferred or a sub-let agreed. One housing staff member mentioned an eviction that had been suspended after their intervention. One housing association gave examples of cases where tenancies had been allowed to continue, and where the housing association had absorbed the loss of rent. Housing staff gave a few examples where people had been able to pay some arrears from prison which meant that they had been able to keep their home, or had been re-housed by their landlord on release, despite remaining arrears.

3.63. A number of examples were given of cases where individuals had given up an existing tenancy with support from housing staff, avoiding damaging their future housing prospects. One housing staff member from a third sector organisation gave an example of having been able to secure a guarantee that an individual would be re-housed on a like for like basis on release, provided they ended their existing tenancy quickly.

3.64. A few individuals gave examples where prison, housing, reintegration or other staff had managed to arrange for some of their possessions to be recovered and stored. It was noted that the retrieval of legal documents (e.g. ID) had made a big difference to their chances of getting a tenancy, opening a bank account and arranging utilities. In one case, third sector housing staff had assisted an individual to obtain compensation where a local authority had disposed of their possessions.

3.65. Work undertaken approaching release (by staff of all types) was also seen to have helped improve individuals’ chances of finding or keeping accommodation on release. One housing staff member stated that no one working with them in prison had to present as homeless on release. Examples were given where assessments undertaken in custody had reduced the time taken for someone to get appropriate accommodation on release. A number of individuals said that having a housing appointment arranged before release had encouraged them to attend. A few gave examples of having been allocated supported accommodation by a third sector organisation or housing association while still in custody.

3.66. Several participants (including housing staff) stated that helping an individual to prepare for independent living would show a landlord that they could look after their home and meet their responsibilities. An example was given where one housing association had made a commitment to “fast-tracking” applications from people who took part in the “Tenancy and Citizenship” course in HMP Dumfries.

3.67. Staff and individuals gave examples where service provision on release had improved people’s chances of getting or keeping suitable accommodation. These included cases where having a reintegration worker accompany an individual to an appointment had increased the chance of a positive outcome (e.g. by helping them keep calm, understand and raise issues, and avoid communication difficulties and potential conflict with staff). Many individuals with experience of supported accommodation felt the additional support (particularly with rent and budgeting) had made it more likely that they would be able to manage their own tenancy later.

Health outcomes

3.68. A large number of individuals, and staff of all types provided examples of cases where they felt there had been a direct link between addressing housing issues and improving individuals’ physical and mental health and well-being (and preventing the types of health problems (identified at pghs 2.48-2.50). Staff and individuals stated that stable accommodation generally made it easier to register with a GP.

3.69. Examples were given of positive health outcomes as a result of individuals having had a member of staff (at all stages) who cared about their situation, and could assist with housing issues. Individuals and staff gave examples where services to help get or keep a home, provide information, or otherwise tackle housing issues had led to a significant reduction in stress for individuals, or had led to improvements in their self-esteem, emotional well-being and self-confidence.

3.70. One individual described how having used a service to arrange storage for their possessions had been “a huge weight lifted”. Individuals and staff gave examples where making arrangements with housing-related services before release had reduced people’s uncertainty and fear. Some individuals noted that having had accommodation identified well in advance of liberation had improved their mental health.

3.71. There were examples where individuals’ health and well-being was thought to have been improved by getting accommodation appropriate to their needs. A few women who had been given accommodation with additional support felt this had improved their personal safety (e.g. by avoiding the risks of sleeping rough or returning to a violent partner). Another individual described having felt more secure, as they were not bullied, and did not have strangers entering their room. A few individuals stated that being released to supported flats had helped them avoid returning to alcohol and drug misuse.

3.72. Reintegration and other specialist staff gave examples where suitable housing had led to improved contact and relationships between individuals and family members (e.g. children, parents or partners), and had contributed to better overall well-being for those involved. A few participants described where an individual’s partner (and children) had been able to remain in their accommodation, avoiding stress and disruption for them.

Employment outcomes

3.73. There was a widely-held view that appropriate housing could help remove some of the barriers to employment, education and training (such as those identified at pghs 2.56-2.57) and make it possible to consider and pursue these options.

3.74. Prison staff gave examples where individuals had received early support to tackle housing issues and had been more settled and more likely to take part in education, training and employment-related opportunities in prison. Some individuals and staff mentioned cases where living in appropriate accommodation had enabled an individual to be more rested and presentable for an interview, or at work, so having a better chance of obtaining, or sustaining a job.

3.75. Housing and reintegration staff gave examples where a combination of accommodation and one-to-one support had enabled some individuals to take up a college place, find and keep a job, or become involved in community activities (e.g. volunteering).

Reoffending outcomes

3.76. There was a near-consensus view that addressing housing issues could have a positive impact on reducing reoffending. This was consistent with other research findings on housing and desistance (summarised in Chapter 1 and Annexe 2).

3.77. Evidence was presented in Chapter 1 about the complex range of issues that people who serve short sentences may face (pgh 1.10), and the importance of support structures in reducing reoffending (pgh 1.9). There was a clear view that co-ordinated access to services to help with the range of issues people faced (e.g. addictions, lack of money and possessions, mental health problems, unemployment etc., as well as housing) made reoffending less likely.

3.78. All reintegration staff (and several individuals) gave examples where staff had helped individuals identify and access the range of services they required (including housing) to address the sorts of problems that could lead to reoffending (pgh 3.77).

3.79. Many individuals and staff described instances where gate pick-up had helped ensure that individuals attended early appointments with housing and benefits services, minimising their risk of offending in the early stages after release. Some gave examples where the co-ordination of housing and other services had meant that people had been able to obtain food and other items, as well as accommodation, making the theft of basic essentials less likely.

3.80. The role of appropriate and stable accommodation in helping avoid risk factors which might lead to reoffending was noted in Chapter 1 (pgh 1.9). Many participants believed that placing an individual in appropriate housing circumstances reduced the likelihood of reoffending.

3.81. Specific examples given by staff and individuals included where a local authority had enabled someone to move away from their previous home area on release, which had kept them away from peers who they considered might have encouraged them into behaviour which could lead to reoffending. A number of individuals noted that not being placed in a hostel on release had, in their view, significantly reduced the risk that they would commit drug or alcohol-related offences.

3.82. A further issue raised in Chapter 1 (pgh 1.8) was the individual nature of progress towards desistance. A number of prison and reintegration staff suggested that services in the community could help people generally “get on the right path”. Several reintegration staff mentioned examples of individuals who had received services to help them to address housing issues (sometimes for the first time) who had been able to stay out of prison longer than before, and had made progress towards desistance.

3.83. One individual stated that getting their flat had been critical in making changes to “everything” in their life. Some individuals and staff stated that having accommodation to come out to would give people “something to lose” and deter them from reoffending.

Outcomes for service providers

3.84. Most comments on improved outcomes were about the positive impact on individuals who received services, but some were also mentioned for the services. Some staff, for example, suggested that joined-up practice led to better information-sharing and more effective use of limited resources than un-coordinated provision. A few gave examples where co-located services, or multi-agency discussions had, in their view, led to more co-ordinated work.

3.85. Several prison and reintegration staff stated that they had learned more about housing issues through advice and information from a housing specialist, and so were able to provide higher quality services than before. Some stated that, if housing were provided to people on release, this would reduce one cause of pressure on local authority housing staff, and enable them to better serve other client groups.

3.86. Several staff argued that investment in improving the quality of services provided to address housing issues would be cost-effective, as it would help avoid the high costs not only of homelessness, but also of consequent problems with reoffending, health, relationships, income and benefits etc.


3.87. This chapter has described the range of housing-related services available to people who serve short sentences. These are being provided by prison, housing, reintegration and other specialist staff, and can include: advice; information; practical and emotional support; accommodation; advocacy; and referral to others.

3.88. Examples have been found of early improvements to housing, health, employment and reoffending outcomes resulting from addressing housing issues. Joint working and information sharing between services, the coordination of support to individuals, and the provision of appropriate accommodation to meet an individual’s needs have been highlighted as key elements of good practice.

3.89. Given the nature of housing issues (described in Chapter 2) and the role and impact of housing-related services in tackling these issues (detailed in this chapter), the importance of individuals having access to these services is clear. Chapter 4 details the gaps in, and barriers to the provision or use of these services, and summarises participants’ suggestions about how these can be addressed.


Email: Julie Guy

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