Ex-prisoners need help with housing, says Nacro

19 Oct 00
Ex-offenders should be treated as priority cases for housing rather than automatically excluded from council waiting lists, it was claimed this week.

20 October 2000

People released from prison following short-term sentences are twice as likely to reoffend if they do not have homes to go to, said Nacro, the ex-offenders' charity, in a report, The forgotten majority, published on October 16.

Two-thirds of the 90,000 people sent to prison in England and Wales last year served sentences of less than

12 months. According to Nacro, it is increasingly difficult for many to find affordable rented accommodation when they are released.

The report criticises local authorities, which exclude all ex-offenders from council housing. 'In some cases these take a blanket approach to past criminal activity, even when there is no evidence of risk to the community,' said the report.

A Nacro survey of 350 prisoners carried out earlier this year found 27% had lost their home while 44% needed help with long-term housing. Those seeking places in hostels or supported housing projects risk losing out to other homeless people.

This week's report welcomes proposals in the housing green paper to stop local authorities from imposing blanket exclusions and to extend priority-need categories to include homeless people who are vulnerable because they are leaving institutions.

Nacro is also calling on prisons to establish housing advice centres and for councils and registered social landlords to designate prison liaison staff to deal with applications from prisoners awaiting release.


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