An investment of 18,000 pounds by the Treasury has kept some 150 discharged prisoners from re-entering the criminal justice system. The money came from the Invest to Save Budget and was used to fund an adviser for an inter agency project. In the first year of the project the reconviction rate among 375 prisoners discharged from two prisons on Teesside was around 5 percent, compared to the national average of 40 percent.The Prisoners’ Passport project offers an integrated service to prisoners preparing for release, helping them to understand and get maximum support from local agencies involved in housing, employment, health and benefits services. As well as reducing the likelihood of reoffending, the initiative helps offenders, their families and their communities generally. Partner agencies involved in the project include the Prison Service; Probation Service; Employment Service; Benefits Agency; Citizens Advice Bureaux; and local authorities.
The project is the overall winner of the first ‘Progress In Partnership’ awards, which are a new feature of the Invest To Save Budget, launched in 1999. Joined up thinking has had a progressive influence on the way the 330 million pounds five year budget is managed. Round one was restricted to central departments and agencies. Rounds two and three brought in local authorities, health, police and fire authorities. Round four extended the scope to voluntary bodies. Round five will be announced shortly and there is speculation about how wide the net will be cast.