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New keys for old doors Breaking the vicious circle connecting homelessness and reoffending Graham Bowpitt, Nottingham Trent University,

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Presentation on theme: "New keys for old doors Breaking the vicious circle connecting homelessness and reoffending Graham Bowpitt, Nottingham Trent University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 New keys for old doors Breaking the vicious circle connecting homelessness and reoffending Graham Bowpitt, Nottingham Trent University,

2 Discharged into homelessness  What is the extent of the problem?  How does it happen?  What has been done about it?  Why hasn’t it worked?  What is the ‘New Keys’ initiative?  What do we know about mentoring?  What happens next?

3 The enduring problem  61% reconviction rate (SEU, 2002) has only fallen to 58% (MoJ, 2013)  At sentence, 15% homeless (inc. 9% sleeping rough) + 34% vulnerably housed (MoJ, 2012)  79% reconviction rate for homeless  Housing reduces reconviction by 20%  A third report nowhere to stay on release (c30,000 ex-prisoners/year)

4 How does it happen?  Prison risks homelessness: –Informal arrangements lost; –Housing Benefit entitlement ends; –Failure to negotiate end of tenancy; –Release brings homelessness and debt.  Homelessness risks reoffending: –Reverting to criminal networks; –Housing gives an interest in staying out; –Housing connects to opportunities.

5 What has been done?  2002 ‘Vulnerable’ offenders prioritised in homelessness legislation  2003 Supporting People fund for housing support services  2004 National Action Plan → NOMS + target to ↑ prisoners with housing on release  2012 Prison Service Instruction core offer includes housing support

6 Why hasn’t it worked?  Support worker frustrations –Exclusions –Poorly integrated services  Offender frustrations –Advice failed to generate action –No support through the prison gate –Narrow perspectives and conflicting agendas

7 New initiatives  2010 Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle, committed to tackling reoffending;  2013 consultation produced Transforming Rehabilitation and Offender Rehabilitation Act, 2014;  Mentoring especially commended through website,

8 What is New Keys?  Intended as a volunteer mentoring scheme  Big Lottery funded, run by day centre in collaboration with local prison  Prolific repeat offenders, short-term sentences, early 20s, 90% homeless  Aims to sustain rehousing, prevent reoffending and overcome social isolation

9 Who made up the sample?  6 recent ex-prisoners  5 worked with New Keys before release  4 were prolific acquisitive offenders  All accommodated, but 5 at risk of homelessness on release  All had broken relationships  5 had substance misuse problems  4 had diagnosed mental health problems

10 Why did they reoffend?  Importance of substance misuse, mainly for ‘self-medication’;  Resulted in homelessness and crime, which became mutually reinforcing;  Rejection by support systems;  Only sources of support were criminal friendships and prison itself.

11 What worked with New Keys? (1) Short-term  Giving priority to housing “Even though I was locked up in a different prison she still went out of her way and done all this work for me. … She came and picked me up in the morning I got out of prison, she came all the way over to [the other prison] and picked me up and brought me here.” (SU6)  Flexible, holistic, personal support “[The OSO] sits and listens and she’ll be there for me. No matter what’s going through me at the time she’s there for me, night or day. That to me is a blessing. Really been there for me. It’s like an angel sitting on my shoulder.” (SU5)

12 What worked with New Keys? (2) Long-term  Sustaining secure accommodation –Only SU3 making progress  Overcoming substance dependency –100% abstinence needed more than New Keys  Finding an occupation –Work important in 5 cases, even if unpaid  Restoring lost relationships –New Keys indirectly important in 4 cases

13 Conclusion  Key ingredients –Link with day centre –Engagement ‘through the gate’ –Continuity and scope of support  Implications for findings elsewhere –Mentoring might not provide all this –Personalised approaches affirmed –‘Housing First’: priority to accommodation, but not necessarily independent


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