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12 May 2023

Howard League responds to National Audit Office report on improving resettlement support for prison leavers

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the Improving resettlement support for prison leavers to reduce reoffending report, published today (Friday 12 May) by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO, which interviewed the Howard League as part of its inquiry, found that the government is not consistently supporting prison leavers in resettling into the community, and that there has been a decline in the quality of services available.

It found that a combination of high caseloads and a severe shortage of probation officers meant that essential resettlement work was not being completed, and that a reorganisation of probation services and the impact of Covid-19 were continuing to hinder efficiency.

In the year 2022-23, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons did not rate any prisons as ‘good’ for rehabilitation and release planning, compared to three per cent in the previous year and 30 per cent in 2019-20.

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This report is a wake-up call. A bloated prison system means scarce resources are being used to build more jails – rather than improving rehabilitation services and ensuring people don’t reoffend when returning to the community. There is a mismatch in public spending priorities and the end result is a system that sets people up to fail, rather than helping them move on from crime and lead positive lives.

“Overstretched and under-resourced services are struggling under intolerable pressure. Severe staff shortages in prisons are leaving people locked in their cells with nothing to do, and severe staff shortages in probation are making it harder for them to find a home and a job when they are released.

“This will only get worse if the government proceeds with its plans to increase the prison population and build more prisons. Any serious attempt to reduce crime would begin with investment in housing, education and jobs instead.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The NAO report, Improving resettlement support for prison leavers to reduce reoffending, will be available online from Friday 12 May 2023.



Noor Khan

Press and Public Affairs Officer

Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7873



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