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Prisoners plan to reoffend just to get off the streets, report finds

South London prison watchdog says offenders are so desperate to avoid homelessness, they are already planning crimes

If you want to know how grim things can be living on the streets, a new report indicates being homeless is worse than prison.

According to a prison watchdog, convicts are deliberately reoffending in order to get sent back inside and have somewhere to stay.

The Independent Monitoring Board for Thameside prison in south London discovered some inmates were actively planning their return because prison at least offered “security” from destitution.

A number told the board that they would soon reoffend in order to be returned to the relative security of prison

The Thameside board found almost 50% of prisoners up for release had nowhere to live.

The board’s report said “too many prisoners” struggle with post-prison rehabilitation because “of factors outside the prison’s control, especially the poor availability of suitable accommodation in the community.”

“A number told the board that they would soon reoffend in order to be returned to the relative security of prison: and they do,” the report stated.

“There was a stark contrast between those with a home, who were generally looking forward to their release, and those who felt they would be homeless and were not confident (and in some cases actually fearful) about their future.”

Dr Barbara Judge, the board’s chair called on central government, councils, the Mayor of London and charities “to increase the availability of good hostel accommodation as a vital factor in reducing reoffending.”

Lord Bird, the founder of The Big Issue who learned to read while in prison, has emphasised the importance of prevention in all policy matters to help stop people getting stuck in a cycle of poverty.

The cross-bench peer has proposing a prevention unit in Whitehall working across health, education, social services, police and prisons.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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