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An Improbable Journey Exploring a prison release plan Case Study

OCTOBER 2020 Sharon Sharman Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES

VOICES is funded through the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs programme; Stoke-on-Trent is one of the 12 areas covered by this programme. VOICES seek to empower people with multiple needs – such as mental ill-health, substance misuse and homelessness – to improve their lives and to influence services through sharing experiences that provide insight into the difficulties that create barriers to recovery.

This case study is based on an actual prison release plan organised by the prison* and presented to a VOICES’ customer – referred to as ‘Jack’*- the day before his release. The same plan was shared with his Support Worker who was able to immediately identify that the customer would experience difficulties in trying to attend the appointments that had been organised for him. It is important to note that, if a person leaving prison before the original due date (often because of ‘good behaviours’) does not comply with the requirements of the release plan, they could be re-called (sent back) to prison. * The actual prison service and the customer’s real name are not mentioned in this document


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Purpose of the Case Study.............................................................3 Resettlement Support and Responsibilities................................4 Requirements for Jack’s Resettlement........................................5 Jacks Prison Release Plan...............................................................6 Jack's Journey by Public Transport...............................................7 Jack's Journey by Car with Support Worker................................8 Jack's Journey by Taxi.................................................................... 9 Contextual Considerations......................................................... 10 Lived Experiences........................................................................ 11 Human Considerations............................................................... 12 At the End of the Day.................................................................. 13 Measuring the Mandatory Resettlement Plan......................... 14 Summary....................................................................................... 15 Recommendations....................................................................... 16

Purpose VOICES are sharing this case study to raise awareness to multiple services of the difficulties encountered with complex prison release plans. Our project has supported people with multiple needs since 2014 and our experience is that Jack’s case is not isolated. The case study demonstrates that Jack’s plan was unachievable and, therefore, set him up to fail. Jack should have been ‘on the road to recovery’ when, it is likely, instead, that the risk of recidivism was increased. Through raising awareness, we hope to initiate discussions with relevant services and to co-create change regarding prison release plans and processes.

Method Members of the VOICES team explored the physical journey of Jack’s release from the prison gate by researching different modes of transport that Jack could use as options to enable him to follow his prison release plan. Timetables of public transport were accessed along with drive times calculated using Google directions and taxi fares.

Customer Background • • • •

no fixed abode no welfare benefits substance misuse support needs compulsory appointment with the probation service


Invested an additional

£22 million per annum

500 additional CRC staff

Through the Gate services operating in

86 prisons

Resettlement Support and Responsibilities HMPPS has recently implemented an Enhanced Through the Gate (TTG) service for prisoners • Invested an additional £22m per annum over the remaining life of the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) 1 contracts to deliver this enhanced service to people leaving custody. • The investment is supporting approximately 500 additional CRC staff to deliver Through the Gate services • TTG services within all 86 resettlement prisons - including the prison in this case study Through the Gate (TTG) instructions and Guidance on Schedule 7 (Revised September 2019)2 HM Prison and Probation Service, “make it clearer what minimum TTG service is expected to be provided, to deliver resettlement services and support offenders before and after release. Contract management teams will measure CRCs against these new contractual requirements and the mandatory requirements of this instruction/guidance.” — Through the Gate The desired outcomes of these instructions and guidance are: “By expressing the requirements as desired outcomes, commissioners can better understand how the services on offer support our organisational aims of protecting the public, reducing reoffending, and improving rehabilitative outcomes including the successful resettlement of offenders following release from custody.” — Through the Gate The following extracts are taken from Operational Instructions found within the TTG instructions and guidance: “All prisoners will undergo a Basic Custody Screening assessment (BCS) completed by prison staff (BCST part 1) within 72 hours of reception, and all prisoners serving 4 years or less on reception will undergo an assessment from CRC Staff (BCST part 2) - designed to assist CRC staff when completing the BCST part 2 and in delivering resettlement planning activity.” “All prisoners will be assessed by CRC staff during the early stages of their custody (within 5 working days of receiving a completed BCS part 1) to determine immediate resettlement needs. They will also be assessed during the last 12 weeks of their custodial sentence to assist with pre-release resettlement planning.” — Operational Instructions


1 CRC – Community Rehabilitation Company – private-sector supplier of probation and prison-based rehabilitative services for offenders in .....England and Wales. For more information see https://www.swmcrc.co.uk/about-us/ 2 https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/offenders/psipso/psi-2018/pi-2018-07-ttg-annex-a-cfo.pdf

Requirements for Jack’s Resettlement According to the TTG instructions and guidance there are three levels of mandated resettlement pathways for prisoners, based on levels of need:

LEVEL 1 All prisoners = assess and identify needs

LEVEL 2 Prisoners with an identified need = assess, identify needs, refer to services, assist with applications to services and follow-up on referrals and applications

LEVEL 3 Prisoners with identified and complex needs = all the above AND, subject to consent, refer those at risk of homelessness to the Local Authority in accordance with Section 10 of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Partnership arrangements should be in place with local authorities and prisons to facilitate development of effective support plans.


Jack’s Prison Release Plan The day before Jack’s release from prison he was provided with this ‘plan’, or rather, appointment schedule – all to be completed on the day of release


Area of Support

Type of Service




Housing provider




Hostel provision



Welfare Benefits

Welfare benefits service



Reducing reoffending

Probation Induction Compulsory


Before 15:00

Substance misuse

Substance misuse service


Before 16:00


Local Authority housing


These are fictional place names generated at ‘fantasynamegenerators.com’ that represent the real places in the case study which are approximately 3 miles apart *

For this case study release time is 9am

All appointments have an assumed duration of 1 hour. It is evidently clear to see that Jack would be unable to comply with this plan, given that two appointments have been organised to take place simultaneously and in different locations. For other appointments it would not be possible for Jack to stay for a 1-hour duration if he were to be in time for his next meeting. It is important to note that if Jack were more than 10 minutes late for an appointment with any of the above services it is likely that the meeting would not take place. If Jack were not able to arrive at the service at all it is likely that his appointment would be recorded with a ‘DNA’ – ‘did not attend’. Several ‘DNAs’ recorded in some services can result in the person being refused access in the future.


On the morning of Jack's release, he was provided with:

Discharge Grant (£46)

Travel warrant

No addresses or directions

Jack’s Journey by Public Transport 9am

9am Release from prison


10:40am First bus to nearest train station arriving at station at 11:08 11am

12:07pm 12pm

Arriving at Hightown station at 12.36 to get connection for Westvale

12:52pm 1pm

Bus to Westvale arriving there at 13:09

1:12pm 2pm

Short walk and arrive at Benefits Advice Centre too late


Bus to Hightown for Probation Appointment arriving 14:26 3pm

3:07pm Bus back to Westvale for Substance misuse service arriving at 3:22pm 4pm

SUMMARY Jack leaves the prison at 9am and needs to walk to the nearest bus stop which is quite a way away. This means that the first bus that Jack can take to the train station is at 10.40am, arriving at the station at 11.08am. Jack has already missed his first appointment. Jack catches the train and arrives at Hightown station at 12.36pm, then takes the bus to Westvale, aiming to attend his appointment with the welfare benefits service. Jack arrives in Westvale at 1:09pm. Jack has missed his second opportunity to discuss accommodation and is too late for his welfare benefits appointment. Jack takes the next bus to Hightown to get to his compulsory probation induction meeting. The bus leaves at 1.59pm, arriving in Hightown at 2.26pm. Jack has missed this important meeting so, unless Jack can find a way to communicate why he is so late, he may now be at risk of re-call. Jack needs to catch the next bus back to Westvale for his appointment with the substance misuse support service. This bus is at 3.07 and arrives in Westvale at 3.22. Jack misses the appointment. Jack take the next bus back to Hightown for his appointment with the local authority housing service. This bus leaves at 4.08pm and arrives in Hightown at 4.25pm. Jack has missed his last appointment.

OUTCOME Despite travelling non-stop for over seven hours Jack has been able to attend none out of the six appointments arranged and now has: • • • •

no fixed abode no welfare benefits no substance misuse support needs no engagement with probation service

4:08pm Bus to Housing appointment at council. Arrives at 4:25pm

*Information gained from Google Maps and National Bus and Train service


Missed appointments Housing Provider at 11am (Westvale) Hostel Provision at 1pm (Hightown) Welfare Benefits at 1pm (Hightown) Probation Induction at 2pm (Hightown) Substance Misuse before 3pm (Westvale) Local Authority Housing before 4pm (Hightown)


Jack’s Journey by Car with Support Worker SUMMARY


Release from prison collected by Support Worker in car

Jack’s support worker collects him from prison at 9am and drives him straight to the substance misuse service. They arrive at 9.32am and Jack can attend a recovery appointment. From here, the support worker drives Jack to the 11am appointment with a housing provider where he also completes his first accommodation meeting. There are two appointments at 1pm; the support worker offers the choice to Jack as to which one he will attend, allowing him to express his own priorities. Jack chooses the welfare benefits appointment as he has no finances. He completes this meeting, resulting in him missing the appointment with the hostel accommodation provider. The support worker attempts to drive Jack to his probation induction meeting. They arrive at 2.15pm. Jack is too late for the meeting to take place.


9:32am Arrive at Substance Misuse Service in Westvale 11am

10:34pm Drive to housing provider Westvale arriving before 11am 12pm


They then drive back to Hightown where Jack is in time for a meeting with the local authority housing team.



Despite having access to a car and driver with support from the worker for over seven hours, Jack is still only able to attend four out of the six appointments organised for him. Jack is now: • • • •

of no fixed abode awaiting welfare benefits receiving substance misuse support needs no engagement with probation service


Drive to Westvale for welfare benefits appointment – arrives on time; misses appointment with the hostel accommodation provider



Drive back to Hightown for probation induction – arriving too late

2:45pm 3pm

Drive back to Hightown for meeting with local authority housing


On-time appointments Substance Misuse before 3pm (Westvale) Housing Provider at 11am (Westvale) Welfare Benefits at 1pm (Hightown) Local Authority Housing before 4pm (Hightown)


Missed appointments Hostel Provision at 1pm (Hightown) Probation Induction at 2pm (Hightown)


*Information gained from Google Maps

Jack’s Journey by Taxi SUMMARY


The VOICES team researched Jack’s journey by taxi by breaking the routes into stages (from one location to another) and attaching the costs. This was completed by calculating driving routes and times through Google directions and contacting various taxi companies to clarify the average cost of each stage.

9am Release from prison collected by Support Worker in car



Jack had left prison with a discharge grant of £46.00 and no mobile telephone, therefore, it is very unlikely that the journey by taxi is a viable option for Jack.

Arrive at Substance Misuse Service in Westvale 11am


10:34pm Drive to housing provider Westvale arriving before 11am

If Jack chose this way to travel it may be that he could achieve similar outcomes as those achieved with a Support worker by car; four out of the six appointments. However, the journey is calculated with driving times and cost and does not account for time needed to make calls to taxi companies in between each appointment nor any time waiting for taxis to arrive.


If Jack chose this way to travel, he would have no money left at the end of the day.



This mode of transport will have similar timings to Jack's journey by car with a support worker.

Drive to Westvale for welfare benefits appointment – arrives on time; misses appointment with the hostel accommodation provider

2:15pm 2pm


Average Cost (£)

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3


Stage 4


Stage 5


Stage 6




On-time appointments Substance Misuse before 3pm (Westvale) Housing Provider at 11am (Westvale) Welfare Benefits at 1pm (Hightown) Local Authority Housing before 4pm (Hightown) Missed appointments Hostel Provision at 1pm (Hightown) Probation Induction at 2pm (Hightown)

Drive back to Hightown for probation induction – arriving too late

2:45pm 3pm

Drive back to Hightown for meeting with local authority housing



*Information gained from Google Maps


Contextual Considerations Journey times for public transport, car and taxi were all calculated using Google directions. These timings were ‘in the moment’ and did not consider any allowances for delays. The car journey did not include time that would have been spent on finding spaces to park and, if necessary, the purchasing of car park tickets. The case study considers what may happen if Jack were very late for appointments, however, does not consider that Jack may be delayed at any of the services due to the service representative not being on time. There is assumption in the calculations that someone is available to see Jack at the start of his appointment time. There is no accounting for the weather in the case study – something that often causes driving and public transport delays. The journey with the support worker was researched with a focus on timings. It is important also to consider costs. The case study involves just one support worker; it would likely be two workers who collected Jack from prison. This is common practice for several reasons including: • Staff safety procedures: no lone working in cars or with customers we are not yet familiar with • Two people enable the driver to focus on the driving and not be distracted by the customer’s conversation As in Jack’s case, it is not uncommon for people to be released from prison with no means of contact. With two support workers one can drive, the other can be making telephone calls with Jack to the services he has appointments with and any others that may meet his immediate needs. For example, in another recent prison release case, the second support worker was able to make an initial GP appointment for the customer who had been released with no medication, although he had been prescribed and had taken medication three times daily whilst in prison. The cost of two support workers for a full day in addition to calls / driving costs is high, yet – even with this generous and valuable resource – Jack was unable to complete the plan. There was information in Jacks referral to his support worker that demonstrated that Jack had needs that may lead to behaviours in appointment settings that would mean he may be asked to leave or refused support, yet he was expected to present with six different services in one day. This type of awareness could have been acknowledged with an alternative release plan that demonstrated consideration of triggers that affect Jack’s behaviour and consideration for the services that Jack was expected to meet with. Jack’s release plan had been designed with the most optimistic of assumptions: that Jack knew where to find and how to get to each of the services; that the appointments would take place on time and be completed relatively quickly, and that if Jack is late, he will still be seen. Even then, the improbable plan turned out to be impossible.


Lived Experiences Team members at VOICES who worked on this case study shared their experiences, describing how they felt throughout the ‘virtual day’

I felt angry knowing that this was an impossible plan, clearly it sets Jack up to fail”

It’s frustrating, it can’t be done. It’s no wonder people go back to prison – I wouldn’t be able to do that in a day.”

When I was working through the journey times for each stage I felt ‘panicky’ that I wouldn’t get to the next place in time, I actually felt really anxious. At the end I felt very disheartened; I tried my best but couldn’t do it.”

Jack has been released – this means he has served his time, he has complied, yet he is treated like this: it’s like another prison sentence only worse – at least you get time to eat in prison.”

I’m very sad; thinking of Jack trying all day long, backwards and forwards between the towns on a ‘conveyer belt of repetitive questions’, and at the end of the day he’s achieved nothing – there must be no motivation left”


Human Considerations Jack has an unmanageable prison release plan. In considering supporting people experiencing multiple needs, the plan is both sub-standard, unfair and gives no thought to human needs. One hour long and consecutive appointments left no time for Jack to • • • • • •

Pause to take in the ‘outside world’- as described by a support worker, “Just to adjust his eyes to the light; to smell the fresh air; to smell ‘freedom’; to collect his thoughts and prepare for the day; to have a conversation with his support worker”. Take ‘bathroom breaks’ Stop to eat or drink De-brief after an appointment / prepare for the next Purchase new or change his clothes – Jack is of no fixed abode so likely left prison in the clothes that he was wearing when arrested Contact any family or friends

The total duration of Jack’s non-stop plan is over seven hours long; comparable to an average working day. Consider the impact on Jack’s health, safety, and wellbeing in these circumstances. If Jack completed this journey with the support worker, it is likely that some of the physiological needs would have been met; it’s not unusual for a support worker to take a person leaving prison for food and drink and to check if any clothing items are needed before appointments. This intervention also supports levels of dignity; many people leave with their belongings in a see-through bag; members of the public realise quickly that the individual has come from prison or hospital. If Jack completed the journey by public transport, he may arrive at services feeling anxious (as the support worker described earlier), thirsty and hungry or ‘hangry’. In people who have experienced multiple traumas it is not uncommon for these feelings to transfer to behaviours – ‘hangry’ being one example. It is common knowledge, however, that – when a person presents as, ‘agitated’, ‘aggressive’, ‘angry’ in services, they may be asked to leave. It may just be that a cup of tea and five minutes rest is all that is needed, then ‘hangry’ might not happen. What would Jack’s release plan look like if human needs had been considered at the points of design, development, and delivery?

Self-fulfillment Needs

Esteem Needs Belongingness and Love Needs

Safety Needs

Physiological Needs


Achieving one's potential, including creative activities

Prestige and feeling of accomplishment

Intimate relationships and friends

Security and safety

Food, water, warmth and rest

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs diagram available from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

At the End of the Day We know from experience of numerous prison release cases involving people of no fixed abode with complex needs that Jack would not make substantial progress in his journey to recovery in one day. This case study demonstrates that, at best, Jack has managed to achieve: • An application for welfare benefits • Initial meeting with substance misuse support service • Contact with the local authority housing service Jack has nowhere to stay; he left prison with £46 and still needs to buy food. The local hostels are likely full, and he cannot afford bed and breakfast accommodation. He is not motivated, having achieved little in relation to his recovery plan. He has missed his appointment with the probation service and will be aware that there are consequences. Services are now closed; he is on the streets where he will stay unless he can find somebody that he knows that can help him. He has no telephone so cannot contact family or friends – if he has any. If this is Friday, Jack will need to survive through the weekend until he can re-present for support. Jack’s options – NOT choices – are • • •

Return to rough-sleeping and ‘manage’ on what is left of the £46 try to find ‘old mates’ / past ‘acquaintances’ – putting him at risk of recidivism Commit a crime to return to custody and prison

What did Jack Do? Following this prison release Jack did return to rough-sleeping and, within a few weeks, had committed crimes that resulted in a further prison sentence; this, in VOICES experiences, is not an isolated case.


Measuring the mandatory resettlement plan Jack is a young male and has complex needs, therefore was entitled to Level 3 Mandatory resettlement pathway. In Table 1 we have considered Jack’s release plan and measured this against activities and outcomes as set out in HMPPS resettlement responsibilities and TTG Minimum Specification PI Accountability and Ownership Annex A.


Accountability all actions: CRC to provide - (if host CRC to provide

Level 1: All prisoners • Identify any housing needs • Identify and provide bespoke advice on housing options • Confirm housing status and need Level 2: Identified Need • Complete housing referrals and assist with application processes (this should include any suitable housing providers including social housing, charitable housing provision and private providers) • Provide follow-up support on applications made • Support bidding processes for social housing applications • Support application for bond scheme if available • Follow up on referrals in advance of release Level 3: Identified and Complex Needs • Subject to the individual’s consent, refer those who are at risk of homelessness to the Local Authority in accordance with Section 10 of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 • To support effective operation of the Duty to Refer (Section 10, Homelessness Reduction Act 2017), develop partnership arrangements with Local Authorities and prisons to facilitate development of effective support plans • Support registration as homeless if released with no fixed abode (NFA) on day of release and ensure that the Local Authority are aware, in accordance with their duties under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 • Support access to emergency accommodation • Support access to safe, settled accommodation that reduces risk or (re) victimisation or the triggering of trauma related symptoms


PM housing need and status were identified NO appointments were for initial referrals – no applications made

NO Jack’s plan included the need to present as homeless at local authority housing department before 4pm that day / no support provided to access safe, settled accommodation that reduces the risk of trauma related symptoms

* Y=Yes, N=No, PM=Part Met “Housing authorities and homeless services have a vital role to play in prison release support but should not be expected to work reactively when people with multiple and complex needs are released without anywhere safe to stay, as it was the case for Jack. The involvement of these agencies should be well planned and integrated with health and social care. Multi-agency responsibilities for adult safeguarding and the extreme risk of death among this cohort mean that it is no longer acceptable to overlook instances of neglect and acts of omission where people are released from prison to the street without meaningful and purposeful plans. As case law and learning from Safeguarding Adult Reviews (SARs) develop, so too will expectations for good lawful practice.”

— Bruno Ornelas, Head of Service and Safeguarding Lead - VOICES 14

Summary It is clear to see that Jack stood little chance of achieving the expectations laid out in his release plan. It is almost as though the purpose of the plan was to book appointments, rather than to support Jack to achieve attendance that may lead to the intended outcomes.



Book appointment



Attend appointment



Secured Housing


Jack may have looked forward to his day of release and felt that he would, by the end of the day, have some accommodation and finances in place whilst also complying with the requirements of the probation service. He may have set out for a day with meaning and purpose but, after achieving very little progress, could quickly give up. Supported transitions are crucial for people experiencing multiple needs to ensure both their physical and psychological safety. A well-designed release plan that is both traumainformed and psychologically informed could be the difference between sustained prison release and recidivism.



his ith in the future – fa st lo ho w on rs The pe lief . With his loss of be ed om do as w – re futu hold; so lost his spiritual in the future, he al ect to and became subj e in cl de lf se m hi t ” he le al decay. mental and physic

59) — Viktor Frankl (19 ist log ho yc Ps Adapted from sic Tribute to Hope Meaning: The Clas Man's Search for


Recommendations We have considered the difficulties and challenges experienced by Jack and, with our knowledge and experiences of what works well for people experiencing multiple needs, we offer the following recommendations to make positive changes that may help people like Jack and services that support them to achieve the intended outcomes together. • • • • • • • •

Ensure all accountable organisations are aware of the mandatory requirements in relation to prisoner resettlement plans and processes Invest time to establish effective partnership working and processes to enable rapid referrals and solutions to be identified at the point when needs are identified Provide learning opportunities to accountable organisations and partners to better understand the impact and importance of effective resettlement plans - to include Trauma Informed Care and Psychologically Informed Environments Ensure that resettlement plans are designed with and not for the person and are based on individual needs, thus encouraging engagement with support prior to release from prison Consider developing ways that enable services designed to support people experiencing multiple needs to engage better with people prior to release at the prison Share the difficulties experienced by people leaving prison with ineffective release plans with services that people are required to engage with; negotiate and advocate for changes to individual plans that demonstrate consideration for health, safety, and wellbeing. For example, is it necessary for a person to present for a probation induction on the day of release when they have no fixed abode and no finances? Include homelessness as an identified need within TTG specifications When developing induction, support and resettlement plans always consider human needs

Acknowledgement This case study was prepared with the use of information from case notes, presentations and websites collated by members of the VOICES team. Particular thanks to Andy Meakin, Director and Bruno Ornelas, Head of Service and Safeguarding Lead for contributions, Anna Mather, Service Coordinator for information gathering and Steven Bellamy, Service Coordinator for providing insight through a qualitative interview.

01782 450760 enquiries@voicesofstoke.org.uk 1st Floor, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke on Trent ST4 2SA www.voicesofstoke.org.uk

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An Improbable Journey: Exploring a prison release plan