Press Release

Release prisoners a day early to access essential services, Big Issue founder tells Lords

End Friday releases for prisoners so they can access housing and health services, Big Issue founder tells Lords.

Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue

Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue

Today, Lord Bird, founder of The Big Issue has addressed the House of Lords, as the Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill reaches a vital step closer to being passed into Law.

At the moment, prisoners released on a Friday have just a few hours to secure a bed for the night, but a new law could see them free to go up to two days early, giving them precious time to get set up for a life on the outside. 

With many essential support services, such as local authority housing, substance misuse support or mental health services closed at weekends and bank holidays, those released on a Friday face an extra set back that could leave them homeless their first night on the outside. 

Those released on a Friday “struggle to get the essential support they need on release to keep them away from crime in those first few delicate and crucial days out of custody,” Lord Bird will say, as the bill reaches its second reading.

If passed, the Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill would allow an ex-offender’s release date would be brought forward up to two days if falls on a Friday or the day before a bank or public holiday.

“By removing the barriers that a Friday release can bring, we can ensure that custody-leavers have a better chance to access the support they need to reintegrate into the community so that victims and the public are protected,” said Lord Bird. 

Around a third of all prisoners are released on a Friday, with the reoffending rate for adults released on a Friday is higher than for any other day of the week. Former prisoners living in safe accommodation are around 50 per cent less likely to re-offend. 

Brought to parliament by Tory MP Simon Fell, the government has backed the bill, saying it will lead to “hundreds of crimes [being] prevented in boost to public safety”.

Commenting on the bill, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said: “Protecting the public is my top priority and we know access to housing, job support and substance misuse services are crucial in helping ex-offenders stay on the straight and narrow.”

“By ending Friday releases for certain prisoners we will reduce reoffending and cut crime, making our communities safer.”

People with convictions already face a host of barriers when seeking to rejoin society after time in prison, including prejudice from potential employers who can withdraw a job offer if the application has a criminal record

However, many companies are starting to become more aware of the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce with a range of experiences and backgrounds.

For information on Lord Bird’s Big Futures campaign, aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty for future generations, and to sign the open letter visit, bigissue.com/campaigns/big-futures/

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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