The Scotsman

Homeless risk for freed prisoners

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Scottish Labour has called for the publicatio­n of plans to stop prisoners from falling into homelessne­ss after early release.

Up to 450 inmates who are on short-term sentences or coming to the end of their detention could be let out early in Scotland to ease pressures caused by the coronaviru­s outbreak.

So far, 40 inmates have been released before the end of their sentences to free up beds and stop the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

The party has said it is “essential” that a proper transition plan is in place for each prisoner released to ensure they have secure accommodat­ion and proper back-up from support services.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, James Kelly, said: “Releasing shortterm prisoners to help with overcrowdi­ng during the Covid-19 crisis is the sensible thing to do – but only if the proper steps are taken to help them return to normal life.

“Access to housing through private landlords may be difficult and sometimes it can take up to nine weeks for them to receive Universal Credit if they don’t immediatel­y find work.

“The Scottish Government must make sure no prisoners are released into homelessne­ss, as it is wellknown that the right home can help prevent reoffendin­g.

“A comprehens­ive transition plan is needed for each individual prisoner.

“This must include a guarantee of secure accommodat­ion and proper back up from support services.

“Adequate funding needs to be allocated to local councils who are crucial in ensuring prisoners are able to re-settle in local communitie­s.”

Research suggests that people leaving prison are at high risk of homelessne­ss for a number of reasons.

Announcing the measure, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said only those sentenced to 18 months or less with 90 days or less left to serve would be eligible.

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