More than 1,000 prisoners were released into homelessness at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales, figures show, prompting the government to increase funding for accommodation for prison leavers.
Figures released to the Labour MP Lyn Brown show 840 men, 89 women and 85 young adults aged 18 to 24 were released into rough sleeping or other forms of homelessness between 23 March, when the lockdown was imposed, and 30 April.
A further 1,209 men, women and young adults were released with unknown circumstances for accommodation in the same period.
Brown, the shadow minister for prisons and probation, said: “Homelessness for prison leavers prevents rehabilitation, drives re-offending, and is an obvious public health danger during the pandemic.
“If prison leavers don’t have a decent place to stay, they don’t get a second chance and the public aren’t protected. The Government must guarantee all prison leavers are provided with the right support to break the cycle of re-offence, not just during this crisis, but permanently.”
In late March, the government asked local authorities in England to house all rough sleepers and those in hostels and night shelters but by mid-April there were still multiple warnings over the risk to rough sleepers from Covid-19.