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Key to breaking the cycle of reoffending and homelessness

Stable accommodation is the key to cutting reoffending according to housing and probation experts.

Efforts to reduce the rates of reoffending and homelessness across Lincolnshire were on the agenda at a special conference last week.

The Lincolnshire Homelessness Strategy Group (LHSG), which Boston Borough Council has representation on, and Lincolnshire Probation Trust discussed the accommodation needs, challenges and opportunities for offenders and ex-offenders with more than 70 experts from housing providers, voluntary sector organisations and probation.

Mark McPherson, director of Homeless Link, provided the national picture along with data from Homeless Link's own research in the area.

He said: "Pressure on housing-related support services has never been greater, and for many the up-and-coming changes to the probation service are yet one more obstacle.

"So it was fantastic to be at the housing and offender strategy day to see groups of housing and probation staff working together with energy and creativity to find the opportunities in this latest change.''

Afternoon workshops also allowed the groups to share their views with Public Health Lincolnshire's commissioning body to help inform future plans for accommodation and support services for offenders and ex-offenders.

Martin Davies, chief executive of Lincolnshire Probation Trust, said stable accommodation was key in reducing reoffending.

Michelle Howard, chairman of the LHSG and Lincolnshire Reoffending Board, said there is a strong commitment in Lincolnshire to overcome barriers.

She added: "A clear understanding of the problems, issues and risks that offenders face is critical if we are to understand the accommodation, resettlement barriers and solutions required. Across criminal justice, homelessness services, frontline and senior management, we all have a part to play in improving the lives of our clients."

The next step will be to turn the ideas from the conference into action by finding ways to get offenders and ex-offenders into sustainable accommodation.