HC Deb 23 July 2004 vol 424 cc686-7W
David Maclean

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will develop a set of protocols to be followed in order to assist the resettlement of prisoners returning from abroad; and what actions his Department will take to ensure that(a) resettlement is as untraumatic as possible, and (b) returning prisoners are accorded sufficient assistance to begin rebuilding their lives. [186285]

Mr. MacShane

Her Majesty's Government believe that British nationals returning from imprisonment overseas need to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society as quickly as possible. The best way for this to happen is through rapid entry into the benefit system when they return to the UK.

Returnees can be helped to do this by registering with "Prisoners Abroad", via their nearest UK Diplomatic Mission, as early as possible during their sentence. `Prisoners Abroad' is an independent non-government organisation (NGO) and charity, co-funded by trust funds and private individuals as well as by government. It offers an excellent resettlement programme which aims to help eligible returning British nationals access the benefits available and looks after them while they do this.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's work with "Prisoners Abroad" is an excellent example of an effective partnership between government and the voluntary sector as envisaged by the Compact on relations between government and the voluntary and community sector in England. The Compact is a partnership agreement between government and the voluntary and community sector (VCS), providing a framework for their future relationship.

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