How UK prison policy locks women into homelessness

In 2021 it was revealed that 77 per cent of women were being released from jail without a home to go to – and without a roof over their heads, they don’t stand a chance, reports Cherry Casey

Wednesday 09 March 2022 16:39 GMT
The reoffending rate for women without settled accommodation is 65 per cent
The reoffending rate for women without settled accommodation is 65 per cent (Tom Ford)

In October 2020, the Safe Homes for Women Leaving Prison initiative revealed that six out of 10 women were leaving prison into homelessness. The figures, taken from the 2019 report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Bronzefield, are a damning indictment of the “accommodation pathway”; the path that should lead women from prison into safe, secure housing. The same pathway that, 15 years previously, Baroness Corston deemed to be “most in need of speedy, fundamental, gender-specific reform” in her review of women with vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system.

Following the SHWLP revelation, the issue of women prison leavers and homelessness received some time in the spotlight and in April 2021, the Justice Committee launched an inquiry into women in prison (the report for which is due this Easter).

Hearing from those at the forefront of the field, from charity executives to prison workers, the overwhelming message, as put by Dr Jenny Earle on behalf of SHWLP, was that “without housing you do not stand a chance. You cannot sign up with a GP; you cannot get your kids back; you cannot get a job; you cannot enrol in longer–term mental health and drug and alcohol support.” Housing is the cornerstone of rehabilitation: the reoffending rate for men and women without settled accommodation is 65 per cent.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in