Our hands on work in the community means that we are in a strong position to advocate for young people at risk, prisoners and ex-offenders, drawing on data and evidence to act as their voice in the wider policy and action debate.

A Manifesto from the Streets: innovative policies to reduce crime and reoffending, created by ex-offenders

ManifestoThis April we’ve launched our first Members’ Manifesto. As the political parties fight for votes from homeowners, savers, business owners and employees, our Members represent a different side of Britain: people without the financial assets or the social status to attract attention from the politicians. But as this Manifesto shows, they have different assets: passion and intelligence, compassion and experience, which give them a unique and compelling perspective on the social issues that lead to crime.The Members’ Manifesto project was designed to give our Members a voice. The ideas presented here are their ideas, not those of Only Connect. But they reflect a principle which is central to OnlyConnect‘s vision – that ex-offenders or youth at risk who try to put the past behind them and do the right thing need the rest of us to meet them half way.

Re-offending currently costs the UK between £9.5 billion and £13 billion a year[1], with 58% of prisoners released from short term sentences[2] and almost 70% of young offenders going on to reoffend within a year[3]. The cost to the economy of re-offending by ex-prisoners can be compared to putting on an Olympics every year. Clearly, there needs to be put in place some immediate and imaginative interventions to ensure that reoffending rates drop dramatically.

We have turned to ex-offenders for practical solutions to fix crime. Working with over 50 male and female ex-offenders and youth at risk of crime (our Members), Only Connect has created four distinct and imaginative policy proposals to directly drive down levels of crime. This research has drawn a clear picture of the prompts for reoffending. Through surveys, one on one interviews and qualitative discussions, it became clear that the three key triggers for re-offending are a lack of available and suitable jobs, an inability to secure sustainable and suitable housing, and the prevalence of drug issues. The Members’ proposals are as follows:

1. Creating sustainable career paths to get and keep ex-offenders into work
Businesses within the government’s supply chain should:
– Give guaranteed interviews to ex-offender applicants
– Receive National Insurance tax breaks for each ex-offender employed

2. Ensuring a pathway into stable long term private rented housing
Following suitability and affordability testing, local authorities should:
– Provide ex-offenders with an official ‘reference’ for use with private rented landlords
– Loan the cost of the deposit and first month’s rent, recoupable through monthly council tax

3. Providing drug addicts with a pathway to mainstream support – and away from crime
We propose the creation of a pilot UK Drug Consumption Room – a supervised health care facility which reduces long term drug use and anti social street behaviour. The facilities allow drug users to use in safe hygienic conditions, be monitored and move onto long term rehabilitative programmes.

4. Providing support against domestic violence at critical points in a woman’s life
30% of domestic violence starts in pregnancy. We propose mandatory domestic violence training for midwives and pregnancy healthcare professionals.
We urge the Government and local authorities to consider implementation of our Members’ four proposals, which we believe could truly have an impact on local and national levels of crime and re-offending. By cutting re-offending rates by just one quarter, they could save the UK up to £3.25bn per year.

To read the full Manifesto, click here.