Prisons in Parliament

Something going badly wrong: one in three Westminster homeless been through the prison system

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Homeless. Image, Dionisio Leitao

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.

Reduction of homelessness bill

Nearly one in three rough sleepers in Westminster have spent time in prison said Karen Buck, MP, arguing that prisons need to collaborate with housing authorities to prevent ex-offenders becoming homeless.

“Something is going badly wrong when people who are highly vulnerable and with almost no resources to their name, leave prison, fall through the net and end up on the street”.

An amendment was passed to the Homelessness Reduction Bill:

This amendment would ensure that where a public authority made a referral to a housing authority in respect of a person who is or may become homeless the public authority is under a duty to cooperate with the housing authority.

The amendment means that prisons will now have a responsibility to continue working with the housing authority after making a referral.

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Suicide in prison

What is being done to reduce suicides in prison? Asked Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary.

Sam Gyimah, MP, said that NOMs had launched a suicide and self-harm reduction project and that more money was being invested in prison safety and in specialist mental health training for prison officers.

How effective has it been though? The NOMs project launched in 2015 but the latest figures show that self inflicted deaths have increased 13 per cent in the last year and incidents of self harm are up by a quarter.

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Employment for ex-offenders

What steps are being taken to help ex-offenders into work? Asked Bob Neill, Chair of the Justice Committee. 

Seema Malholtra, MP, pointed out that not a single prisoner had been helped into employment by the Through the Gate provision, the Government’s rehabilitation programme.

Minister for work and pensions, Damian Hinds, said employers attitudes must change as well as prisoners’ employability. “We need more prisoners to be work-ready, and we need more employers to be willing to take the plunge and take on a prisoner.” He admitted that the government need to do more to get ex-offenders into work. “I recognise that we need to improve opportunities for ex-offenders”



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