Lack of advice increases risk of re-offending

Thousands of prisoners in England and Wales are put at risk of re-offending when they leave prison because of a lack of advice and support on housing, benefit and debt, according to a report published today.

The Citizens Advice report says a third of prisoners lose their homes while in prison, half lose contact with their family and a third face mounting debts. But those that have access to independent advice are more likely to keep their home, maintain family ties and stop debt problems, the study found.

The charity is calling on the government to ensure that all prisoners have access to quality-assured independent advice and recommends prisoners’ discharge grant be raised from £46 to £114 – the equivalent of two weeks’ income support.

Citizens Advice chief executive David Harker said: “Financial stability in the period immediately following release is essential if an ex-prisoner is to resettle successfully into the community and avoid reverting to crime.”

Crime reduction charity Nacro welcomed the call for the grant to be increased, saying the current level was a “recipe for re-offending” as prisoners were not eligible for benefits until two weeks after their release.

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