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THROUGHCARE OVERVIEW

THROUGHCARE – MITIGATING THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF INCARCERATION
BY MARGARET SMITH, Policy, Planning and Development Officer, Community Justice Glasgow 

Throughcare is one of the 9 priority themes set out in the Community Justice Outcome Improvement Plan 2018 – 2023 (CJOIP), where as a Partnership,  we made a commitment to improving planning for people leaving custody, to support their return to the community from prison.  We know that we need to support peoples’ re-integration in order to reduce the likeliness that they will re-offend and be reconvicted.

Throughcare directly links to our Outcomes Reporting Framework 2018-2023:

  • Structural Outcome SO3 – People Have Better Access to the Services they Require, Including, Welfare, Health & Wellbeing, Housing and Employability
  • (3a) People released from a Custodial Sentence have (i) suitable accommodation & (ii) have had a benefit eligibility check.
  • Structural Outcome SO4 – Effective Interventions are delivered to Prevent and Reduce the Risk of Further Offending
  • (4a) – Targeted interventions have been tailored for and with an individual and had a successful impact on their risk of further offending.

There is a strong body of evidence that supports throughcare as an effective tool in tackling re-offending.  If focussed on an individuals’ needs, it can help to reintegrate those involved in the criminal justice system back into the community and to help tackle their (re)offending behaviour, reducing the likeliness of further offending, see for example What Works to Reduce Reoffending: A summary of the Evidence (2015).  Some of central factors (needs) that can influence someone’s offending behaviour include:

  • Education and employment
  • Homelessness
  • Mental illness & mental health problems
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug addictions

By focussing our attention on planned Throughcare for these factors, we can help people to reintegrate with reduced risk of re-offending.

Access to statutory throughcare is dependent upon the length of an individual’s sentence. Those sentenced to a long-term sentence (four years or more) are given statutory throughcare. Those sentenced under 4 years may be offered or request throughcare themselves on a voluntary basis whilst in custody.

The high numbers of short-term prisoners coming in and out of prison outstrip the capacity of voluntary throughcare and limits the support available to individuals to successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Our approach to improving throughcare is an evidence based one which focusses on those serving a short-term sentence.  You can read the ‘Why Throughcare’ section of our CJOIP (pages 53-59) to read and understand more about the evidence that supports this approach and focus. 

There has been some improvement, in for example, the number of prison leavers who stated ‘Prison’ as the reason for their homelessness in recent years –  from a high of 712 in 2012-2013 to 404 in 2018-2019 (see Table 1).  This data is in relation to people who make a homelessness application, and self-report that they have given up or lost accommodation due to a stay in prison.  However, the number of repeat applications (people who have registered homeless on more than one occasion in a single year) has risen from 58 to 110 in the same periods.

The value of Throughcare lies in the support offered to mitigate some of the impact of incarceration on an individual by providing assistance, advocacy and empowerment in navigating services, and re-establishing connections to community supports, including housing, education and health services.

We recognise that we have a long way to go, to read about some of the work that has been ongoing in Glasgow over 2019 – 2020 to improve Throughcare:

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