Justice Secretary Chris Grayling opens a supported housing scheme helping Muslim offenders in London turn their backs on crime.
Chris Grayling outlined the urgent need to bring down high reoffending rates through greater support for prison leavers.
The Date Palm Project will work to rehabilitate offenders by mentoring them in the months before they leave custody, preparing them for life in the community.
On release they will be housed in an environment focused on their rehabilitation and resettlement, and given help into training, education or employment through businesses working with the scheme.
Currently almost 60 per cent of those released from short prison sentences go back to crime within a year of release. And this group get no statutory support on release. To tackle this unacceptable problem, the Government is introducing crucial reforms that will see all offenders given at least 12 months’ supervision in the community. There will also be a much greater role for private and voluntary organisations, which will bring a fresh approach to reducing reoffending and protecting the public.
Chris Grayling said:
For too long prisoners have been released back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets and little else, in the hope they will sort themselves out — it’s no wonder things haven’t improved.
Offenders need more targeted through-the-gate support, so work towards rehabilitation begins inside prison, and continues into the community.
Our reforms to rehabilitation will see a far greater role for private and voluntary sector organisations, who can use innovative schemes like mentoring to turn offenders’ lives around. The Date Palm Project is an excellent example of this and I want to see much more of this type of approach.
The project is funded by a charity called the Better Community Business Network (BCBN).
Project Director Sabah Gilani said:
Due to the stigma of imprisonment, many young offenders do not keep in touch with their families or have the correct support following their release. Their vulnerability, susceptibility to negative influence and pressure to reintegrate quickly can lead to frustration, discontentment and most worryingly, reoffending.
This project will be crucial in helping many individuals get their lives back on track, reducing crime and improving our communities.
Project partner St Mungo’s Broadway’s Chief Executive Howard Sinclair said:
This project will be a template for future housing where young men can start to rebuild their lives after prison, and find new ways to work and live. Inspiring and innovative are often overused words but not in this case. We look forward to building up the service over the months and years ahead.