Crime cash used to cut re-offending

Crime cash used to cut re-offending
Press Association

An "innovative" scheme which helps offenders released from prison stay out of trouble is being funded with cash seized from criminals.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced the Wise Group is to get £250,000 from the Scottish Government for its Routes Out of Prison project. The funding comes directly from the proceeds of crime seized from criminals.

Routes Out of Prison is run in seven of Scotland’s jails, with life coaches working with prisoners,servicing sentences of between three months and four years, long after their release.

Most of the life coaches on the project are ex-offenders and so far the scheme, which has been running since 2006, has worked with more than 6,000 people. A study by Edinburgh University found those who took part in it are less likely to reoffend than others.

Mr MacAskill announced the funding on a visit to the Wise Group’s Glasgow headquarters where he met life coaches and some of those who had taken part in the scheme.

With costs for Routes Out of Prison estimated at about £2,000 a person, compared with the £35,000 the Scottish Prison Service says it costs to keep a criminal in jail for a year, the Justice Secretary said the funding would "allow the Wise Group to continue supporting those coming out of prison to put them on the first step towards building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities".

Mr MacAskill hailed Routes Out of Prison as "an innovative project" and "an example of a scheme that can help break the vicious cycle of offending that we all too often see from people leaving prison after finishing short-term sentences".

He said: "We recognise that there are those who need support when they leave prison to keep them on the straight and narrow and to choose a life free of crime. That’s where Routes Out of Prison has made a difference and the results speak for themselves."

Laurie Russell, chief executive of the Wise Group, said: "Scotland’s re-offending rates, prisoners going in and out of prison time after time, are among the highest in Europe. The Scottish Government has shown that it is determined to tackle that.

"This new money for our Routes Out of Prison project demonstrates the Government’s continuing commitment to end the revolving door of re-imprisonment."