Minister announces £3.4m to steer criminals away from reoffending

Offender in Community Payback vest Image copyright bbc
Image caption The Scottish government says supporting people leaving prison will help prevent them returning to crime

Four mentoring services that work with criminals to prevent re-offending are to receive £3.4m in grants from the Scottish government.

The schemes involve one-to-one mentoring for people leaving prison and those on community sentences.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the funding on a visit to one project in Dundee.

He said supporting people to overcome challenges could stop them offending in the future.

The services include New Routes, a national service for young men leaving prison, and Moving On, which supports those leaving Polmont Young Offenders Institution.

Further organisations getting a financial boost include Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA), which supports those on community sentences and other court orders, and Shine, a national service for women who are leaving prison, remanded in custody or are struggling to complete community services.

Image caption Scotland's reconviction rate is at its lowest level in 18 years

On a visit to the TCA offices, Mr Matheson said: "One-to-one mentoring has been shown to turn people away from crime by helping them address practical or personal problems, such as relationship issues, accessing housing or healthcare, or finding training or work.

"Supporting people to overcome these challenges can stop them offending in the future.

"This funding follows the £15.5m we have invested through the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund to create new services that offer mentoring for men and women, either to build a new and better life after their release or to comply with community sentences.

"This is a key element of our record support for community justice services, which has helped to bring down Scotland's reconviction rate to its lowest level in 18 years."

TCA interim director Kathryn Baker welcomed the funding and Mr Matheson's visit.

She said: "Our community-based mentoring service has made a real difference to the lives of women and young men seeking to break the cycle of offending.

"Today, Mr Matheson was able to learn at first-hand how our partnership works in action and hear the real stories from people who are gradually getting their lives back on track."

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