Barrow & Furness MP changes law to end Friday Releases from prison for vulnerable prisoners, cutting reoffending and making streets safer.

New law to significantly reduce Friday prison releases receives Royal Assent

· Ends race for thousands of prisoners to find housing and job support before weekend

· Part of wider reforms to cut £18 billion reoffending cost and make streets safer

Thanks to a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Barrow & Furness MP becoming law today (29 June 2023), thousands of prisoners vulnerable to addiction, mental health issues or homelessness will no longer be released on Fridays.

Around one in three individuals leave custody on a Friday – giving them just a few short hours to source access to critical services, such as finding a bed for the night, registering with a GP and signing up for job support, before services shut for the weekend.

The Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill receives Royal Assent today and gives prison governors the power to release prisoners with mental health issues, substance misuse problems or who have far to travel home, on a Wednesday or Thursday instead.

This will ensure they get ample time to access critical support services – reducing the risk of reoffending and cutting crime.

Research shows an offender’s release day can make a five per cent difference to reoffending rates, and those with safe accommodation lined up 50 per cent likely to commit further offences.

Following strict security checks, around 70 prisoners a week are expected to benefit from the law changes, when the bill comes into force in the coming weeks.

Simon Fell MP, Member of Parliament for Barrow & Furness and sponsor of the Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Act, said:

 “This Bill makes a small change in the law that will deliver a huge difference to the lives of those released from prison, cut reoffending rates, reduce the pressure on prisons, and cut levels of crime. It’s been my pleasure to work with the MoJ, brilliant charities like The Well and NACRO, and prisoners themselves, to secure passage of the Bill. I’m delighted that we’ve got it over the line and can finally end the damaging cycle of Friday releases that helps absolutely no one.

 “My thanks go to Big Issue founder Lord John Bird who took the Bill through the House of Lords for me, and also Mark Jenkinson MP who introduced the Bill into the Commons. This has been a team effort and I’m grateful to have received support from the Government and Opposition to pass this important legislation.”

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds said:

“Cutting crime and protecting the public is my top priority and ending Friday releases is a significant but common-sense change that will do exactly that.

“By maximising the time people have when they leave prison to get a job, a home and maintain family ties we can continue to drive down the £18 billion cost of reoffending and better protect the public.”

Campbell Robb, Nacro chief executive, added:

“Today is an important day for all our service users and staff who shared their experiences and highlighted the problems with Friday releases. For too long Friday releases have been setting people up to fail, but no more.

 “This legislation gives people with the highest needs, that vital extra time after they leave prison to access housing, GP services and probation before the weekend. This will all serve to give people the best chance at a second chance and reduce reoffending.”

The Bill was brought forward by Simon Fell MP and Lord John Bird MBE, before gaining vital Government support. The Act also delivers on the Government’s pledge in the Prisons Strategy White Paper, published in December 2021.

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