Throughcare prison support scheme 'cuts reoffending'


A scheme that offers inmates extra support as they prepare to leave jail has been credited with cutting reoffending.

An independent evaluation found that 78% of prisoners who received Throughcare support in the past two years had not returned to custody.

The scheme was introduced at 11 Scottish Prison Service sites in 2015.

It aims to ensure inmates have arrangements in place for housing, medical provision and benefits.

Throughcare Support Officers (TSOs) continue to give guidance after prisoners are released from custody.

'Revolving door'

Prison officer Julie Cree, who has been working as a TSO at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow, believes it has helped reduce the "revolving door" of reoffending.

She said: "Two and a half years ago, when I started this role, coming into the community I realised how difficult it was for people to get a roof over their head, get their benefit sorted.

"Everyday life was so stressful for people, it was actually easier to be in prison.

"I think the benefit is there's somebody there to support the guys coming out of prison, somebody there who believes in them, who can give them a bit of guidance."

Case study - Former Barlinnie Prison inmate Aaron Ramsay

Media caption,
Prisoner aftercare 'changed my life'

"I used to have a Barlinnie loyalty card," jokes Aaron Ramsay.

He has 117 conviction for offences to fund a drug and alcohol habit. But he believes a late-night text from his TSO helped turn his life around.

At the age of 40, he now has his first home, he's planning to marry his girlfriend and he has access to his young son - all incentives for him to stay out of jail.

"It was just offend, in prison, offend, in prison, offend, in prison," he says.

"What triggered me was getting a text from a Throughcare worker - 'please contact me and let me know you're OK'.

"And I thought, somebody does care."

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said the aim was to return inmates to their communities as citizens.

He added: "We are confident that by developing the capacity and capability of TSOs and embedding a focus on continuous improvement, these actions will lead to better outcomes for those in and leaving our care."

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said he was pleased the prison service was now looking to develop the service further.

He said: "Reducing the churn of short-term sentences will create more opportunity for prison staff to focus on interventions and support that will assist each individual to address their problems."

Throughcare has been piloted at the following jails: Barlinnie, Cornton Vale, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glenochil, Grampian, Greenock, Low Moss, Inverness, Perth and Polmont. The independent evaluation was carried out by Reid Howie Associates.

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