Surrey

Released prisoners at Bronzefield 'given tents to live in'

Bronzefield Prison Image copyright Google
Image caption Inspectors said the lack of social housing stock was a "contributory factor"

Prisoners at a women's jail in Surrey were given tents and sleeping bags on their release because they had nowhere to live, it has emerged.

The disclosure follows an inspection of HMP Bronzefield in Ashford.

In the six months prior to last November's inspection, 103 women left with no fixed address, a report said.

The lack of social housing stock and local authority housing department's downgrading of ex-offenders to "low priority" were cited as "factors".

The number of women leaving the jail with settled accommodation dropped from 95.5% in 2014 to 83.7% in 2015.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the "contributory factors" were outside the control of the prison

"The number of women leaving with settled accommodation had dropped in recent months as a result of the lack of social housing and hostel accommodation.

"Despite this the prison continued to work proactively to secure accommodation for women being released," it said.

Inmates cannot be held in prison beyond the end of their sentence.

Overall, the inspection concluded that Bronzefield was well-led with committed staff and had continued to improve.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman claimed: "As part of our probation reforms we now provide unprecedented support for offenders to make sure all receive support on release, including those sentenced to less than 12 months.

"The responsibility for making sure there is housing available ultimately lies with the local authority."

Prison's director Charlotte Pattison-Rideout said it worked with local authorities and other organisations to ensure as many women as possible had suitable accommodation on release.

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