Concerns as Private UK Prison Releases Women With Tents and Sleeping Bags

Concerns as Private UK Prison Releases Women With Tents and Sleeping Bags © Flickr/ Art Crimes

18:39 14.04.2016Get short URL
http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160414/1038016964/uk-women-prisoners-housing.html

A report by the UK’s Chief Inspector of Prisons has raised serious concerns over the lack of housing available to female prisoners on their release from HM Prison Bronzefield.

The number of women leaving with settled accommodation had fallen by over 10% between 2014-15, and the prison is reported as having issued tents and sleeping bags to women with no accommodation.

HMP Bronzefield is the only purpose-built, private prison for women in the UK, as well as being the largest female prison in Europe. The prison has said that many of the problems regarding accommodation for released prisoners are due to a lack of social housing in the area, as well as a tendency for local authority housing departments to downgrade the needs of ex-offenders to “low priority.”

Homelessness Charity Homeless Link cites the availability of accommodation as a key factor in re-offending, and says that “housing and support must be available for every person leaving prison, including those serving short sentences.”

A survey from the UK Government’s Ministry of Justice, also found that over three quarters of prisoners who were homeless before custody re-offended within a year of release, as opposed to less than half of those who were in accommodation beforehand.

The shadow Prisons Minister — Labour’s Jo Stevens — commented on the revelations surrounding HMP Bronzefield:

“It is absolutely staggering that women seem to have been released from prison with nothing more than a tent or a sleeping bag… This is astonishing and a far cry from the safe and secure accommodation needed to assist them in the rehabilitation process.”

This is not the first time that HMP Bronzefield has found itself on the receiving end of negative publicity; back in 2011, inspectors were highly critical of healthcare standards at the facility, which they called “shockingly poor.”

More recently — in 2013 — the discovery that an inmate had been segregated for over five years led the Chief Inspector to describe it as “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.”

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