Why campaigners want prisoners released on Wednesdays rather than Fridays | UK News


A move to end Friday prison releases would help stop freed inmates walking straight back into the arms of criminal gangs, campaigners have said.

Supporters of the change argue it would tackle the “dreaded race against the clock” in which former prisoners struggle to access housing, benefits and healthcare services before the weekend, leaving some temporarily homeless and increasing the risk of reoffending.

Backbench legislation has been proposed in parliament that would give prison governors discretion to release those most at risk up to 48 hours earlier to ensure they can receive assistance.

The Ministry of Justice has said it will “carefully consider” the Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill, which is due to be presented to the Commons by Conservative MP Simon Fell on 2 December.

The department had announced in June plans to introduce changes to curb Friday releases, though the decision now rests with the administration of Rishi Sunak, the prime minister.

Mr Fell said he is “confident” his proposals will secure government backing, and he and backers are calling for ministers to approve the legislation urgently.

Scotland already operates the 48-hour early release system if “it would be better for the prisoner’s re-integration into the community”, and Labour has previously suggested making a similar change in England and Wales.

More on Ministry Of Justice

Mr Fell, a member of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: “The case is evident that this needs to happen.

“Literally every Friday that passes there are people who are being released without the duty of care wrapped around them that would really benefit them, so the sooner the better.

“We need to move very quickly on this.”

He added: “It’s an issue I see locally in my constituency… dealing with the consequences of Friday releases and releases before public holidays and things like that, where people who have been put into the justice system are simply deposited back into the hands of the people who mean them no good whatsoever.

“This [bill] just gives people that breathing room and ability to plan, ability to access statutory services, and should also limit the ability for organised criminal gangs and others to basically pick up people who have nowhere else to turn at that time.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Nacro, a social justice charity, said: “Friday releases don’t make sense, if we’re committed to reducing reoffending.

“For those in prison, a Friday release is a dreaded race against the clock to get support in place such as housing, benefits, and healthcare, all of which make the key differences between potentially falling off a cliff edge and moving on in life.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to ending Friday releases for the most vulnerable, relieving pressure on services, reducing reoffending, and cutting crime.

“We need this bill to pass urgently, so that people will have vital extra time during the working week to secure housing, register with probation and access health services.”

Government figures show around one in three offenders leave prison on a Friday.

According to campaigners, 35% of those freed on a Monday are re-convicted within a year compared with 40% for a Friday.

The government has previously acknowledged Friday releases “can end up with ex-offenders spending their first days on the streets with little in the way of support, increasing the likelihood they will commit further crimes”, and committed to legislate when time allows.

Dominic Raab, who was justice secretary in the summer when the government first announced its plans to make a change, has returned to the role under Mr Sunak.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Changing the rules to ensure prisoners can access the support they need ahead of the weekend will reduce reoffending and make our streets safer.

“We will carefully consider the private member’s bill being brought on this issue.”


Source link