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Leaving Prison and Detention Centres

This advice is for people who have recently been released from prison or are currently in prison and will be homeless on release.

Prison and Probation staff have a statutory responsibility to refer homeless individuals, those at risk of being homeless within the next 56 days or those due to be released from prison to a Local Authority.

If you apply to St Leger Homes for housing assistance because you are homeless in these circumstances, we may not necessarily be legally obliged to provide you with any accommodation.

However, we will have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are and work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find somewhere to live. We will provide you with a ‘Personal Housing Plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself.

For St Leger Homes to be legally obliged to provide you with accommodation, we would need to be satisfied that you are eligible, homeless, in priority need and that you have not made yourself intentionally homeless.

When we are considering whether we have a duty to offer you accommodation we will take into account the length of time you were in prison, even if it has been some time since you were released.

St Leger Homes will also look at whether you:

  • Have a mental illness
  • Have a learning disability or physical disability
  • Have ever been in care
  • Have been in the armed forces
  • Are fleeing violence or threats of violence
  • You are vulnerable for any other reason

Priority need for Prisoners and Ex-Offenders

In some circumstances, St Leger Homes might decide you are in priority need because you have spent time in prison or on remand. We will consider whether you should be regarded as being vulnerable by virtue of the fact that you are homeless. This has a particular meaning for homelessness applications and is not the same as being labelled vulnerable in prison.

When considering your homelessness application, the council will look at:

  • The length of time you spent in prison.
  • If any third party support is being provided to you either by the probation service, a youth offending team, or drug and alcohol team.
  • Evidence provided by any third party (including any housing needs assessment) about your homelessness vulnerability.
  • The period of time since your release from prison and how successful you have been in finding your own accommodation and in keeping that accommodation.
  • Any third party support networks such as family, friends or a probation officer.
  • Evidence of any other vulnerability such as mental health problems, drug or alcohol misuse, or a history of having been in care.
  • Any other factors that might have an impact on your ability to find accommodation yourself.

The fact that you have been in prison does not in itself mean that St Leger Homes has to treat you as being vulnerable and in priority need for accommodation. St Leger Homes will need to assess the evidence before it and be satisfied that you will find it difficult to seek out and maintain accommodation for yourself compared to other people who are rendered homeless.

Prisoners and Ex-Offenders who have a home and want to keep it

Please refer to this advice from the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) if you're an existing owner occupier or tenant and you want to keep your accommodation whilst in prison:

Prisoners and Ex-Offenders treated as Intentionally Homeless

St Leger Homes may decide that you are intentionally homeless if you were evicted from where you lived before going to prison because of criminal or antisocial behaviour or because of rent arrears resulting from your time in prison.

If St Leger Homes decides you are intentionally homeless, it will only offer you limited help with finding housing. If you are in priority need, you may be offered temporary accommodation for a short period of time to assist you to find your own accommodation in the Private Sector.

St Leger Homes may take the view that you should have known that your criminal activity could have resulted in you being sent to prison, and that this could lead to the loss of your home. We could also decide that you are intentionally homeless if you gave up your tenancy because your entitlement to housing benefit ended during a period in prison.

It is very important that you tell us about your background as there are circumstances where you may have lost your accommodation but would not be found intentionally homeless. For instance, if you were sent to prison for a crime that was not premeditated, or was not deliberate because you were not able to understand the consequences of your own actions.

This could be the case because of:

  • Having limited mental capacity
  • Having a mental illness
  • Frailty
  • Having an assessed substance abuse problem

Help finding housing from Probation Services

Offenders serving sentences of 12 months or more are released on licence and live in the community supervised by the Probation Service until the end of their sentence. If you are released on licence your Probation Officer can help you find accommodation, as long as you have spent a continuous period of at least twelve months in custody.

Help with money before you are released from Prison

All Prisoners are given a discharge grant paid for by the Prison when they leave. This is money to help with your costs until your benefits are sorted out. If a Prison Housing Adviser has found you accommodation for your first night, you may be given a higher discharge grant, which is paid directly to the accommodation provider.

You may be able to prepare for your release when you are in prison by saving some of your Prison wages. You could consider opening a credit union account when you are in Prison. Ask at the Prison for details.

It is important for you to get in touch as soon as possible to give time for an assessment so that all housing options can be explored and accommodation found.

If you need help or assistance you can Contact Us on:

Telephone: 01302 736000 Monday to Friday 08:30 - 17:00.

By Email: housingoptionsteam@doncaster.gov.uk

If you do not have access to a phone or email please visit us:

In Person: One Stop Shop at The Civic Building in Doncaster

Opening hours : Monday - Friday between 8.30am - 5pm.

Emergencies: If you are homeless outside of these hours contact 01302 323444