Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memoradum submitted by Paul Caradino, Director of Policy, National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO)


  It would be helpful if the Committee could raise with the Prisons Minister and Director General a question on these lines:

  The recent joint thematic report on prisoners' resettlement by the Prison and Probation Inspectorates, "Through the Prison Gate" found that: "Despite some examples of excellent practice, partnership arrangements between prisons and outside agencies were not widespread." Do the witnesses agree that partnerships with voluntary sector organisations are crucial to the effective resettlement of offenders, particularly in providing help with housing, employment, mentoring and help with addictions?

  Will they consider drawing up a national strategy for the involvement of the voluntary sector in prisoners' resettlement, and doing so in partnership with the voluntary sector—for example, by discussions with the Alliance for Reducing Offending, which is an alliance of the voluntary agencies working with offenders?

  Nacro's view is that there needs to be a national policy decision that in every prison there should be a resettlement team—not a collection of individuals with other responsibilities but a proper staff team (like the prison's Education Department). Its members would work in partnership with the prison and probation services but they should have the specific remit of assessing and meeting prisoners' practical resettlement needs. Members of the team should:

    —  Speak to prisoners at every induction course about the team's services;

    —  Interview every single prisoner, remand or sentenced, who enters the prison and assess their resettlement needs;

    —  Take—or help the prisoner to take—immediate action on housing or job protection wherever possible;

    —  Draw up a practical resettlement plan for all prisoners;

    —  Do housing advice work (the team should have a budget to hold open beds);

    —  Do job preparation and job search work;

    —  Co-ordinate regular input to the prison from outside agencies which can help with prisoners' resettlement;

    —  Make links with community projects; and

    —  Run pre-release courses.

  There should also be community based resettlement teams in each area who would be responsible for arranging mentoring, identifying job and training opportunities, and providing continuing "floating support" for ex-prisoners placed in housing and employment, as well as providing a source of help and advice to housing providers and employers who take ex-offenders. With appropriate resourcing, these teams could be managed by voluntary resettlement organisations with experience in dealing with the practical resettlement needs of prisoners.

November 2001

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