A pioneering service supporting people in prison - and once they have left - is helping to reduce the chances of them reoffending.
HMP Low Moss, in Bishopbriggs, set up a ‘Public Social Partnership’ (PSP) in 2013 to look at the underlying issues relating to why a high level of people serving short term sentences go on to reoffend.
The PSP identifies and addresses the problems people preparing to leave prison face returning to their community, improves engagement with services and contributes to a reduction in offending behaviour.
A recent independent evaluation by Reid-Howie Associates seems to show that the approach works, with less than 17 per cent of prisoners who engage with the PSP returning to custody and over half of offenders reporting “an improvement in relation to their criminal behaviour”.
A total of 42 Low Moss prisoners reported a reduction in substance misuse, while around 20 per cent of those interviewed for the report had secured some kind of employment after release.
Findings also revealed that a lack of access to housing, appropriate welfare support and medical support greatly increased a person’s chances of reoffending.
Low Moss governor David Abernethy said: “As the governor of Low Moss I am pleased with the Reid-Howie report on the PSP in place here.
“It is very encouraging and I hope we can address some of the issues highlighted so that short term prisoners leaving our prison can benefit to an even greater degree from the service provided.
“In this way more prisoners will go out to more positive destinations and the likelihood of them lapsing into old ways will reduce and therefore there will be fewer victims of crime and Scotland can be a safer and more productive place.
“I think that if the Reid-Howie report says anything, the thing it says most prominently is that consortiums and collaboration is the way to go.”
The Public Social Partnership schene is a joint project between the Scottish Prison Service and a range of third sector organisations, including Turning Point Scotland, and is funded by the Scottish Government, the Robertson Trust and the Big Lottery.
Governor Abernethy added: “In Low Moss we are very fortunate to have fantastic partners in Turning Point Scotland, SACRO and Action for Children working with prison officers to provide what we think is a 21st century through-care service.
“I am in no doubt that the sum of the parts and the pooling of the expertise creates an even more effective service than each of us could provide on our own.”
Turning Point Scotland chief executive Martin Cawley said: “These findings are extremely encouraging.
“The evaluation shows, providing a clear, consistent pathway of through-care support for individuals has major benefits towards reducing reoffending.
“The partnership approach enables us to pool our resources and create a much more integrated approach that is more likely to succeed.
“And of course any reduction in reoffending not only improves the lives of individuals, their families and their communities, but reduces the burden on the public purse.”