On Friday 2nd December, the Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons. Now one step closer to become law, the Bill sponsored by Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell – will significantly reduce the number of people released from prison either on a Friday or the day before a bank holiday.
What does this mean?
Secured off the back of our long-term campaign to end Friday releases, the law will ensure that people with high resettlement needs due for release on a Friday or the day before a bank holiday, will now be eligible for release up to two working days earlier. Work is now ongoing to ensure that, once passed, the legislation impacts as broad a group of people in prison as possible.
Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: “Our campaign to end Friday prison releases was driven by the experience of our service users and our staff, and we are really pleased to see this small, but significant change one step closer to becoming law. For too long, Friday releases have been setting people up to fail.
Through this legislation, people with high resettlement needs will have that vital extra time during the working week to access the services they need – including securing housing, registering with a GP, meeting probation and accessing health services. This will give people the best chance at a second chance and play a role in helping to reduce reoffending.”
What happens next?
Next, the Bill will reach its ‘Committee Stage’ early in the New Year, at which stage it will receive line-by-line scrutiny, with a group of cross-party MPs also tasked with considering potential amendments to the Bill. There will also be a roundtable, held towards the end of January, which will bring together officials at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), and key stakeholders within the prison system, probation and third sector representatives, to help shape the practical application of the legislation from an operational perspective. This will help to ensure that people who will be eligible to benefit from the legislation can be most effectively and efficiently highlighted.
What have politicians said?
A number of MPs – including the Prisons Minister, Damian Hinds MP – shared powerful testimonies on the impact of a Friday release from several of our service users and resettlement staff, including this, from Stanley, who was released on a Friday:
“I came out of prison homeless. They’ve known I’d be released homeless for months. Yet, released on a Friday, it’s getting late in the afternoon, and I still have nowhere to go. And the housing officer has now gone for the weekend. No wonder people reoffend.”
The breadth of support for this change has been a key factor in the progress made – from across the voluntary sector and beyond including local authorities, police, prison and probation staff as well as politicians across the political divide. Thank you to everyone who has supported so far. There is still a way to go but passing second reading brings us one step closer to seeing real change.