Probation: Link between Homelessness & Offending

Delegates from Government and the voluntary and community sector heard today that there is a direct link between homelessness and offending behaviour and tackling this issue requires a cross cutting partnership response.

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland held a lunchtime seminar in Clifton House to highlight the impact of homelessness on reoffending. Speaking at the event, Probation’s Assistant Director Liz Arthur said:

“There is a direct link between homelessness and offending behaviour. Research indicates that homeless ex-offenders are twice as likely to be reconvicted as those with stable accommodation, and ex-prisoners are one fifth less likely to reoffend if they have stable accommodation.”

She continued: “The vast majority of PBNI’s service users are in accommodation within the community, usually living with their own families. We know that family and social supports, coupled with stable accommodation can directly address risk factors associated with reoffending. It enables individuals to benefit from probation supervision and engage with programmes and interventions. It also assists with finding employment.”

“Homelessness is undoubtedly a social issue and one which we all have a responsibility to address. It’s a cross cutting issue requiring input from the departments of justice, health and communities, and action from statutory, voluntary, community and faith based organisations.”

Louise Warde Hunter, Deputy Secretary at the Department for Communities said: “Access to a safe, decent, affordable place to live is a basic requirement so that people can live a productive and fulfilled life.

“But it is not the whole solution to addressing homelessness which also involves supporting vulnerable people to maintain tenancies successfully. Working together on these issues is the only way to address homelessness in the longer term. We cannot reduce homelessness without co-ordinating services better with the Department of Justice and others. DfC is committed to continuing our collaborative work with relevant Departments and service providers on the ongoing Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan.”