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Prison scheme sees seven-fold increase in people accessing drug rehabilitation

drug rehab

A stock image of a group of people in therapy

Seven times more people are initially accessing drug rehabilitation services after their release from prison since a new prison exit scheme was introduced in Tower Hamlets last year.  

Prisoners who have drug addictions at HMP Thameside have regular meetings to help them start their recovery from addiction, but previously only 10 per cent were continuing with this support after being released. 

However, this figure rose to more than 70 per cent after Tower Hamlets Council introduced a new prison exit scheme in July 2021.  

The scheme is funded through Project ADDER, a Home Office programme which aims to reduce re-offending through a whole-system approach to tackling drug use and drug-related crime.  

Lead member for safer communities Councillor Ohid Ahmed said:  

“Drugs can be a contributing factor of many crimes in Tower Hamlets, including burglaries, anti-social behaviour and knife violence. 

“Prisoners returning to drug use on their release means they are more likely to end up back in the vicious cycle of committing crimes to fund their habits. However, with this new scheme we are thrilled to see we are disrupting this pattern and giving people a chance to claim back their lives free from drugs after being released. 

“The prison exit scheme is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. Its success is great news for our community as it is reducing crime and re-offending and helping people with drug addictions access support and improve their health.” 

The prison exit service is commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council and delivered by social enterprise Turning Point. 

Séamus Tobin, operations manager at Turning Point, said:  

“Through the prison exit scheme, we engage with Tower Hamlets residents coming into HMP Thameside on day one, sharing where they can get support to continue foregoing drugs after their release. We also advise them on the support agencies they can access on their release. 

“Our results in 11 months have been encouraging. I'm so pleased to see the hard work, commitment and dedication from all involved rewarded.” 

Julie Bass, CEO of Turning Point, added: 

"In the last year, Turning Point has worked alongside Tower Hamlets Council to deliver a new and exciting way of working with people on release from HMP Thameside.  

“We encourage people to look at different ways of returning to their lives after serving a sentence in prison and by continuing to support people in the days and weeks following their release, engagement in treatment for drug and/or alcohol issues has dramatically increased.  

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have achieved the results we have by bringing community services into HMP Thameside and showing how easy it is to access support on release. I wish the project continued success."  

Posted on Wednesday 17th August 2022