Third sector steps in to improve prison support

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An initiative led by the Wise Group will be extended to ensure inmates receive support as they prepare to leave prison

25th September 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Support provided to prisoners when they leave jail is set to be extended thanks to a Scottish social enterprise.

The Wise Group is to expand its successful nationwide New Routes mentoring programme, removing the upper age limit of 25 to allow access for all males serving a short term prison sentence.

The expansion comes following a temporary suspension of the Throughcare Support provided by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), which was announced in July due to operational reasons.

New Routes – a public social partnership led by the Wise Group with third sector partners Sacro, Apex, Turning Point Scotland, Scottish Association for Mental Health, and Families Outside – is the largest justice mentoring programme in Scotland, having provided long-term mentoring and guidance to nearly 4,000 males over the last six years. New Routes provides wraparound support and advocacy for up to 12 months, empowering people to believe in a life outside of prison.

Sean Duffy, chief executive of the Wise Group, said: “New Routes has already had national success, proving to reduce reoffending among 18 to 25-year-old males. Just 9.7% of young men on New Routes return to prison within a year of completing their mentoring journey, compared to a national reoffending rate of 34%.

“As the Scottish justice system faces a significant national challenge, we know that expanding our proven, evidence-led mentoring service will support the Scottish Government’s smart justice agenda and a move towards more out and fewer in prison.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s firm focus on prevention and rehabilitation has contributed to a 20-year low in reconviction rates, helping to keep crime down and communities safe.

“Helping people to reintegrate into their communities – including providing practical help with everything from job applications to finding accommodation – is key to ensuring they do not get drawn back into a damaging cycle of offending.

“Following the Scottish Prison Service’s decision to suspend its Throughcare services we worked closely with third sector partners to find an alternative. I’m pleased that the New Routes partnership has been able to respond and this valuable support will remain available to prisoners who wish to access it.”